Like our titular character, Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis have thrown a mixture of animation stylings up into the air and meshed them together in their excellent meditative short The Flying Sailor.
Two ships collide in a harbour, an explosion shatters a city, and a sailor is blasted skyward. Then, with ears ringing, blood pulsing and guts heaving, he soars high above the mayhem and towards the great unknown.
There is a wonderful abstract feel to The Flying Sailor, with the opening feeling light and breezy as if an old cartoon before we are flung around with 3D animation, stock footage and other animation. It would almost be easy to lose focus of the story being told in the film with the attempts to throw so many different forms of styles here. Yet it works very well; the abstract nature of the film allows us to ask a multitude of existential questions, like what is life? What makes a life?
For a film effectively about a retelling of the 1917 Halifax explosion, there is a lot to unpack here philosophically, and the filmmaking duo gives us just enough to ponder without trying to spell it out for us. At times The Flying Sailor has semblances to the latter portion of 2001: A Space Odyssey as it gives us the time to question. It makes it all so bold, yet it works for what we get here, with the film probably running at the perfect length.
Once you find out that the film is about the aforementioned Halifax explosion, you will find yourself venturing down that rabbit hole to learn more about the incident and as for someone who didn’t know about it, it became a fascinating deep dive.
The Flying Sailor is a lot of things funny (seeing a portly sailor thrown into the air and slowly getting stripped of his clothes will do that). However, there is a more poignant tone to the film that successfully reaches you if you allow it to, especially with our secondary character. This results in The Flying Sailor being quite the enjoyable short.
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