"Chava, a Mexican mechanic, must take his son to the moon in order to fulfill his late mother's last wish."
The Navel Of The Moon is a short film about a father who gets a chance to reconnect with his long-abandoned son. The short was produced as a graduation project at Gobelins’ Master of Arts in Character Animation and Animated Filmmaking program. Parisian school Gobelins is known for its quality films, once in a while it beats its own high standards and releases an outstanding one such as this one.
Two characters, external and internal conflicts, non-realistic staging, special importance placed on an object, an emphasis on character development and emotions, and on describing a father and son relationship are the main elements of the short.
Situated in an auto repair shop and on the moon, the artists’ choice of employing non-realistic staging adds a lot of playfulness to the script. A stylized aesthetic is used, with great work done on environment and character design, incorporating many elements from Mexican culture. The expressiveness of the characters helps a lot in building conflicts and in transmitting the emotions the characters go through. Good effort has been dedicated also to composing elements within the frame, lighting, color palettes and use of foreground/background relationships.
The short’s script is worth highlighting, the artists have clearly dedicated a lot of work to it and polished it greatly. It presents within the first minute a number of notably strong conflicts that will hook most viewers. The work done on character development and the heartfelt emotions the father and son transmit is remarkable. The Mexican culture-focused film developed in a French context (the school and teachers that intervened were French) has proven to be a particularly compelling mixture.
Visual rhythm varies from average to high, increasing on sequences with higher emotional displacement. It’s handled through motion within the frame, editing, camera moves (zooms, pans, tilts, dollies, cranes, shakes, etc.). Due to the emotive nature of the script, the film features many tighter shots that capture characters’ emotions and interactions (close-ups, extreme close-ups, medium shots, two-shots, etc.). Wider shots are used to capture the environments and the characters’ actions in them. Camera height varies, to describe the POV of the father and son.
On a side note, one of the possible origins of the word Mexico is “place in the navel of the moon”, in Nahuatl language.
What makes The Navel Of The Moon work so well? Great script, strong conflicts, non-realistic staging, highly expressive characters, plenty of surprises and a focus on emotions that will appeal to a wide audience.