What would the world be without science? We would still be living in an age long forgotten, like being stuck in a moment in history, doing the same things, building the same structures until there is nothing else to build, using the same resources until there’s nothing left to use. How could we advance without scientists, without discoveries, inventions?
This is the question that just gets stuck in your mind after watching the French-Belgian-Canadian animated science fiction adventure film “April and the Extraordinary World”, co-directed by Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci, teaming up with the producers of the Academy Award-nominated “Persepolis” and the mind of renowned graphic novelist Jacques Tardi.
The story set in an alternate steampunk world, is about a family of scientists on the brink of discovering a powerful longevity serum when all of a sudden a mysterious force abducts them, like all the other scientists, leaving their daughter April behind. Soon she will find herself at the center of a shadowy conspiracy and on the run. Where are all the scientists, what’s the purpose for abducting them? The strange and complicated answer is given to us at the end of the movie. I believe everybody should watch this animated film, as it makes a great point in a time like ours, suffocated by technology. Why we never wonder about the things we already have or use, instead of imagining what else we can create using the very advanced technology? Does this movie make us to appreciate more what we have or does it make us wish we would live in the old times, when life was, maybe, simpler? The answer can be different depending on who you ask.
In 1941 it’s a long reign of Napoleons in a world without scientists, without the important inventions we use today in our daily life, using obsolete technology. April is searching for her parents, carrying on their chemistry research in an unusual location, accompanied by her talking cat, Darwin. Her grandfather, Pops, is hiding from the police as they want him to upgrade their weapons. He is the only one believing that science can do anything. Darwin represents the spectator trying to understand every moment that happens in the movie and has a more artistic spirit. The story is a mix of adventure, drama and romance, ending with the image of the world we know and live in.
For creating the animation there wasn’t used any paper or pencil, although it looks like it, but a tablet and a digital pen simulating the traditional animation and the feel of gouache painting creating very special images. Studying the work of Tardi, the animators tried to reproduce his gestures using technology. The rhythm of images is given by the contrast between the grey Parisian backgrounds and the colorful characters.