"In the Norwegian forest a man spends his days with his lifelong friend, a troll."
Forget Me Not is a remarkable short film about friendship, changes in life and how we face them. Created by a team of students from Danish school The Animation Workshop, the film features two main characters, an external conflict that triggers an internal one, and a focus on the use of objects and staging.
Situated in a rural area, staging plays a significant role in the film, first to serve as a frame to describe the friendship of the characters and then later on as a door to the psyche of the man character, when he literally descends looking for the tea cups, launching a non-realistic, subjective sequence. Finally, staging also plays an important part in resignifying the film, as the troll character is incorporated into the environment itself, together with other troll characters seen in the distance.
The aesthetic work is extraordinary, especially the amount of detail dedicated to the environments. The production system implemented at The Animation Workshop that allows for 13 students to work together on a film shines through in this area. The great stylized character designs, and the effort dedicated to lighting, framing (with some nice reframings) and composition of elements (including interplay of foreground/background elements) are also worth mentioning.
Narrated from the POV of the man character, Forget Me Not shifts regularly between tighter and wider shots, due to the need to incorporate both the man and troll characters (in single and two-shots to describe their friendship), and their facial expressions. Extreme wide shots are used to portray the detailed environments. Camera moves are employed and become more frequent after the troll leaves, accompanying the man’s emotional displacement, such as the circling camera in the dreamlike sequence. They are also used to increase visual rhythm (coupled with editing) when the man trips while walking in the forest with the tea cups, and also for revealing an object, linking the man to the broken tea cup after the dream sequence.
The way objects are employed is also worth highlighting, as the man character places a special value on them and in how they symbolize their friendship. Sound design also plays a very important role in creating ambiance, setting the mood in the various scenes, providing sensory images and supporting the dreamlike sequence.
What makes Forget Me Not work so well? A story based in a fantasy setting that raises it above everyday narratives, great use of subjectivity, subdued performances that successfully manage to convey strong feelings, the portrait of inevitable changes and loss, and how the man character tries to fight against them, and a bittersweet end.