"The ruthless king of the pigs delivers his speech at the great annual gathering."
Big Pig is an exceptional short film created by Ulysse Ley and Chloë Danguy during their studies at French school EMCA.
The short offers a portrait of a tyranny, where truth has been tossed out of the window, self-censorship permeates society and power is exercised through performance, deceit and repression. An explicit pact where everyone is aware the system is being built with lies.
Big Pig is populated by animal characters, all wearing masks to resemble pigs. The short features one main character and a crowd of supporting characters, with just a couple being differentiated, strong internal and external conflicts and an emphasis on performance, staging and comedy.
Located in an urban space (stadium?), staging clearly separates the king character from the subjects. A monochromatic palette is used, with colors employed to help direct attention, highlighting characters and actions, as well as the intensity of emotions. The effort dedicated to character designs and their expressiveness is worth noting, as well as the ambitious undertaking of drawing and animating crowds done by only two artists.
Shot sizes range from extreme long shots to close-ups. Wider and tighter shots alternate between the pig king and the other animals, to link the crowd’s reactions to what the king says. Tighter shots are employed effectively to place an accent when tension rises as well as to direct attention to key parts of the story. A few low camera angles are used to give authority to the king character.
Visual rhythm is high, handled through editing and motion within the frame. A couple of camera moves are used, a pan and a dolly in (the later is employed in a shot to help emphasize the emotional displacement of the king).
What makes it work so well? Humor, surprise, expressive characters that help transmit conflict and a portrait of one of humanity’s universal struggles through time.