"Logan wants to bring her sister back to life."

Age: 13+

Pandemonium is a short film directed by five students from Parisian school Gobelins about a woman who strikes a deal with the devil for a chance to bring her sister back to life. The film is notably ambitious and seems to have been created by an army of artists, the quality of work is impressive.

Two main characters (one of them the devil), a cast of supporting characters, a focus on internal conflicts, non-realistic staging, supernatural and fantasy elements, and archetypal themes are the main components of the short.

Staged a few centuries ago in a cemetery and in imaginary locations the film draws strongly from historical sources as well as more recent artists and films (Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, the classic German legend of Faust, perhaps the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice). The result is a wonderful mix that uses universal themes such as guilt, revenge, anger and loss of control with highly creative staging. The focus is placed on the internal struggles of a character and her inner journey, in essence, a test of character, a battle against herself.

Pandemonium employs a stylized aesthetic with color palettes used to differentiate scenes, set the mood as well as highlight characters and objects. Remarkable work as been done on character design (costumes included) and their expressiveness, as well as on the dreamlike environments (with the aid of 3D in some cases).

Visual rhythm is high, with plenty of camera moves (pans, tilts, cranes, circling cameras, shakes, etc.), motion within the frame, FX and editing. The use of text is worth noting, as well as of image symbols that resemble icons (a contemporary expression of computer aesthetic leaking into the film screen) and the video game-like structure of the short.

Extreme long shots are used to describe the large environments. They also (together with long and full shots) play a key role in helping establish screen directions and build spatial continuity. Some of the scenes, such as the Escher-like environment and the dance floor, have a number of shots intended to transmit disorientation, while maintaining spatial continuity. The directors have used screen directions (tweaking them) to transmit this sense of disorientation, in some cases combined with circling cameras. Two-shots abound to link the different characters. Medium and close-ups help transmit characters’ emotions and build conflict. Camera angles are employed frequently to describe a character’s situation in a sequence and their relation to other characters.

What makes Pandemonium work so well? A script that takes viewers to the past and the world of fantasy, outstanding aesthetic work and oneiric staging, strong conflicts with the intensity of Greek myths, expressive main character, plenty of surprises and the incorporation of universal themes that appeal to a wide audience.


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