"When an old family house is put on sale its military traditions and shared memories are unleashed to the present."
The General’s Room is a short film created by a team of artists at The Animation Workshop about a confrontation that arises when a family’s old house is put on sale and one of its members refuses to let go their shared memories and heritage.
Four characters (with six supporting imaginary ones), an old house staging, heightened subjectivity in narration, an accent on the use of objects and a focus on family relationships and identity are the main ingredients of this short.
Narrated mostly from the POV of Hugo, the little boy, great effort has been dedicated to character designs and their histories. The plot and conflicts revolve strongly around characters, their interaction and evolution through the film. Their expressiveness plays a significant role in transmitting emotions and connecting with the audience, lending further authenticity to the film. (Director Georges Marion acknowledges autobiographical traits in the film, his French background seems to be related to the expressiveness and frontal approach of the story.)
Aesthetic work is remarkable, the amount of effort dedicated to characters, environments, props and their background history is surprising. As well as attention to framing, composition of elements, lighting, color, camera placements, etc. Having a production system with ten artists dedicated to the film shows its quality results in this area.
The change in lighting in 3.00 signaling the shift in subjectivity in narration from the POV of Hugo is worth noting, this leads to a switch to a more stylized aesthetic on 5.51, which helps convey the intensity of the confrontation through the boy’s perception.
Cinematography helps potentiate the story. Camera employs wider shots to describe the house’s rooms. Close-ups are used frequently to show particular objects and photos, and effectively on sequences that raise tension. Two-shots and three-shots abound to show characters’ interactions. A low camera height is employed when Hugo’s narrative POV is adopted.
Visual rhythm varies throughout the short and is handled mostly through editing and motion within the frame. Camera moves include pans, tilts (or their 2D equivalent), zooms, etc.
What makes The General’s Room work so well? The authenticity of the story, strong conflicts, expressive characters with rich histories, great aesthetic work, creative use of subjectivity in narration and a focus on memories and identity that will appeal to a wide audience.
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