The Apocalypse

"A capillary incident."

The Apocalypse is a short film about a man whose hair is affected by a particular kind of industrious lice. The short was created by French artist Etienne Raffoux at Paris-based Institut Sainte Geneviève.

One main character, a couple of secondary characters (the doctor, the lice’s head constructor) plus a crowd of mostly undifferentiated lice characters, external conflict, parallel editing, non-realistic staging and an accent on comedy are the main elements of the short.

The Apocalypse features unusual staging, since much of the action takes place on the surface of a human head. It’s also staged in urban interiors (an apartment, a doctor’s office and a workplace).

The short presents two narrative points of view (the man character’s one and that of the lice), which add significant contrast and comedy to the film, in some cases accentuated by music and sound). The alternating shots of the man and the activity of the lice lead to increasingly non-realistic, playful staging. The film script surprisingly veers from a hair-related health problem to an environmentalist theme, showing how depleting resources and unsustainable industrial growth lead to self-destruction (hence the title of the film).

A stylized aesthetic is used, with good effort dedicated to character and environment design. The lice characters that exhibit sheep-like behavior add a lot of comedy to the short. This is a notably ambitious project for a single artist, the amount of work invested in depicting the crowds and hair environments with such quality is impressive. Scale plays a significant role in the representation of elements of the short, and in linking the events that take place in the alternating narrative POVs. Color also is used to help distinguish them.

Visual rhythm is high. It’s handled through editing (parallel editing throughout most of the short), motion within the frame and camera moves (pans, tilts, cranes and zooms). Close-ups and medium shots are used frequently to describe the main character’s issues with his hair and transmit his expressions, long shots and crowd-shots abound to show the lice and the impact of their activity on the environment.

What makes The Apocalypse work so well? Highly creative script, great directing that successfully links two narrative POVs, plenty of surprises and playful staging with great elements of comedy.


(*) are required fields