Wednesday, May 25, 2016

#2,109. Sainte barbe (2007)

Directed By: Claude Barras, Cédric Louis

Written By: Cédric Louis

Premiere: This movie premiered at the 2007 Nuit du Court Métrage de Lausanne

Trivia: Won the award for Best Swiss Short at the 2007 Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival

Young Léon loves his grandfather, and is especially fond of the old man’s bushy black beard. Grandma, who recalls fondly how handsome Grandpa was in the old days when he had just a moustache, would like nothing more than to cut off the old man’s scraggly beard, but Léon won’t allow her to do so. Unlike most people, Léon knows that his grandfather’s beard possesses magical qualities (moments after some caterpillars fall into it, they emerge as beautiful butterflies). Alas, not even an enchanted beard is powerful enough to keep poor Grandpa alive forever.

A stop-motion animated short from directors Claude Barras and Cédric Louis, 2007’s Sainte berbe may look a bit rough around the edges, but its unpolished look only adds to its overall charm. What’s most impressive about the movie, however, is its story, which, at the beginning, is carefree and light-hearted; at one point, when Grandpa dozes off, Grandma grabs a pair of scissors and tries to cut off his beard. Realizing what she’s up to, Léon quickly drops a plate on the ground, which makes a noise loud enough to awaken Grandpa from his slumber. At about the halfway point, though, Sainte berbe takes a decidedly dark turn, and it’s thanks to Claude Barras and Cédric Louis that the movie remains just as appealing even when it’s tugging on your heart strings.

Like many of the shorts in the Animation Express collection, Sainte berbe is dialogue-free (apart from the background music, the movie is completely silent). But then, no words were needed. Equal parts joyous and sad, Sainte berbe puts its images to great use, relating a story that’s sure to have you laughing one minute and crying the next.

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