"A hunter walks through a forest."
ODEON/3 is a short film by French artist Jonathan Djob Nkondo about a hunter who ends up hunted in an alien forest. The film was commissioned by the FX TV channel for the show Cake. The only constraint Nkondo set for himself was to tell a short story in under 1 minute, since he was animating everything by himself. With ODEON/3 the artist submerges viewers once again in a dream-like world.
Staged in an alien planet during a dream sequence and in a bedroom during the second part of the film, two characters are featured that play different roles according to the location they’re situated in. An external conflict that transitions into an internal one, changing levels of subjectivity in narration, an accent on a minimalist aesthetic that plays a game of deception and a SciFi theme are the main elements of the short.
Things are not what they seem, as is the case with a number of Nkondo’s films this one contains surreal elements and abundant surprises. Iconography plays a key role, the minimalist aesthetic employs colors and shapes with varying degrees of realism, and the staging presents a landscape in the dream sequence that seems from another planet.
Narrated from the POV of the boy character, the camera is used to portray his actions and expressions. Wider shots are employed to describe his path through the alien forest or to frame him together with the alien bird. Tighter shots including close-ups and extreme close-ups help convey his expressions as well as particular sensory images, and are also used to potentiate the visual impact of his actions. Nkondo’s use of close-ups for the later is remarkable, some of them are placed chirurgically. His background as illustrator and experience with comics shines through and clearly helps improve the effectiveness of the cinematography.
Visual rhythm varies and increases significantly after the boy throws his helmet away, initiating the sequence that leads to the chase. Visual rhythm is handled through editing, motion within the frame and a few camera moves (a pan, dollies, cranes, a punch in).
What makes ODEON/3 work so well? Great script with surreal elements, highly creative non-realistic staging, abundant surprises, effective use of changes in narrative subjectivity and an unsettling ending.