La Mer À Boire

"The greatest victory is the victory over self."

La Mer À Boire is a short film about a girl who faces internal conflicts when delivering an oral exam presentation. The film’s name plays with the French expression “la mer à boire”, which refers to a task that is really difficult to accomplish. Taken literally, it means drinking the whole sea. The short features an education-related theme and was created by four students at renowned French school Supinfocom Rubika, during their second year at the Bachelor 3D Animation program.

With a strong emphasis on sensory images the short transitions between objective and subjective narration and between realistic and non-realistic staging as the main character’s internal conflicts plunge her into the depths of her mind. The short makes interesting use of time, as it expands a brief moment into minutes of film, creating a portrait of an oral exam presentation narrated with a high level of subjectivity.

One main character, five supporting characters, strong internal conflicts, a focus on character development (facing and overcoming internal fears), shifting levels of subjectivity in narration and realism in staging are some of the elements of the short.

Staging plays a prominent role in the film, as the main character’s internal struggles are transposed into mise-en-scène. A crab is used as narrative device to trigger the transition to non-realistic staging (and back) and the metamorphosis of the supporting characters. A stylized aesthetic is employed with good effort dedicated to character and environment design.

Narrated from the POV of the girl, the short employs a semi-subjective camera with abundant close-ups (plus a few extreme close-ups) to transmit her expressions and psychology. Wider shots are used to describe the location as well as her initial feeling of helplessness. Sound design also helps greatly in conveying her subjectivity and emotional states (internal sounds are frequent). Visual rhythm is handled through editing, motion within the frame and a number of camera moves.

What makes La Mer À Boire work so well? Highly creative staging, effective plot twists and surprises, expressive character that helps transmit conflict, remarkable use of sensory images and a situation many viewers can relate to.


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