movie buff

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 August, 2007, 12:00am


Genre: Animated science fiction film noir.

Director: Christian Volckman is a French painter, photographer, writer, designer, director and producer. He spent three years making his breakthrough short Maaz (1999), which won over 30 prizes in film festivals.

Voices: Daniel Craig, Catherine McCormack and Romola Garai.

The story: It features a missing female scientist (voiced by Garai), her beautiful sister (voiced by McCormack), an evil technological corporation that promotes 'health, beauty and longevity', a tough and world-weary cop (Craig) who never hesitates to pull the trigger, the clue to immortality and a fantasy version of Paris. Just imagine Blade Runner crossed with Minority Report.

The colours: Black, white and nothing else. The two contrasting colours form the tone of the film and make it feels more like a stylish graphic novel than a movie.

Characters are illuminated by clever lighting, making them almost glow against the dark background. The monochrome turns the images into something an expressionist painter might have created. This is comic-cum-animation art of the highest order.

The technology: The film uses Motion Capture to create the animated characters' smooth and seamless body movements. The technology translates the choreographed movements of a real performer - whose body is covered in a network of markers which record movement - onto the computer and then adds details to the action.

A master of the art is Peter Jackson, who has created creatures such as King Kong and Gollum on film using Motion Capture.

The good and bad: Thanks to Motion Capture, the film boosts some of the best and most realistic action sequences - including a thrilling car chase - ever seen in animation.

But the downside is that the technology suffocates the emotions of the characters, whose wooden facial expressions fail to convey any sense of human feelings. This is the main disadvantage of using Motion Capture in animation - Robert Zemeckis's The Polar Express suffered from a similar fate a few years ago.

About Film Noir: The term refers to the style of Hollywood crime dramas made in the 1940s and 50s. These films were heavily influenced by the crime novels of the Depression, which portrayed crime and violence without romanticising them.

A noir film usually features pessimistic and morally ambiguous themes and is characterised by its low-key black-and-white visual style, which has its roots in German Expressionist films - such as F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu - in the 1920s.

Renaissance opens on August 30.