I came across a link to this film on Facebook the other day and hit play not knowing exactly what I was going to see. It seems like you see a lot of garbage on Facebook, and I was a little put off by the 30 minute running time. However, it only took "Junk Head" about five minutes to grab me, and it was well worth watching this little film. At the time I watched it, this movie had received over 150,000 hits. Now, a day later, it's nearly at 300,000. All this means is that a quarter of a million more people have seen this indie animation than the latest Hercules film that cost 70 million dollars. My thoughts are that some studio executives should give the animator in charge of "Junk Head" 70 million dollars...but such a thing would mean there is justice in the world.
You have to be a little bit careful when watching independent films on the internet. Honestly, throughout the whole running time I felt a little trepidation in not knowing if something absolutely horrific was about to happen. I usually don't get that feeling when I'm watching major studio releases because you know nothing traumatic would ever get past the censors--but such things are the bread and butter of indie films. To be fair, that sensation of not knowing is pretty exciting, and there are two moments that I can think of in "Junk Head" that would probably have been hard for a studio to give the green light to. One of them involves a tail that looks like a face (it's disgusting), another involves a tail that may just be a sexual organ (and an extreme close up that's kind of comical). Neither of these scenes were deal breakers for me.
"Junk Head" deals with a futuristic world of complex design. There are levels upon levels of labyrinthine structures that descend, seemingly eternally, to the center of the earth. On the top level live the most advanced creatures, and one of these is sent on a mission to explore the nether regions (although even his commanding officer calls the mission "risky" because they don't know how far down the levels go).
Taking one final look at the sky (nice, haunting image) our hero plummets into the darkness, only to be blown up by a crew of mummy looking figures who somehow reminded me of the "sand people" from Star Wars. The mission is over, but the surface dweller's head is recovered by scavengers on a lower level and given a new body with a face that resembles the mask worn by Michael Palin in Brazil.
The upper level explorer suffers from a case of amnesia as he settles into a new routine of junk collection, walking among the dusty stairs and corridors of a forgotten, decaying civilization.
Oh, and there are some pretty nasty monsters that come to chase him.
To be honest, this is a darn haunting little flick. I found myself reflecting on it throughout the evening after I watched it, and throughout the morning of the next day. Don't be fooled by the fact that it's stop-motion animation, this isn't a film for children. In fact, it's one of the most creative uses of stop-motion animation that I can think of.
One of the remarkable things about this film is that it's clearly just a sliver of a larger universe. According to the web page where I discovered it, the animator labored on this film in his free time for four years in order to bring it to life. The detail is astonishing. I was especially impressed by an early scene where dust fell off an extending walkway. It's little moments like that which make this free little movie a treat.
There are several versions of this film floating around the internet. I've embedded the "English" version here. I have to say that the dialogue is minimal, which is good. This is a story of ambiance and emotion. The translator decided to throw the F-bomb in there a couple times (which was unnecessary) but it didn't bother me really. Some of the "comic effect" scenes seem a little strained, but for the most part this is a pretty tight and effective little narrative.
I'm glad to see a project like this is getting attention on the web, and I hope this filmmaker catches a break from this film and finds funding to complete this project. All this 30 minute short needs is a little bit better titling at the beginning and it will fit seamlessly into a big budget production (and "big budget" for this guy would mean about a hundred thousand dollars). Isn't it sad that for the price of the latest "Hercules" film that bombed, you could give a tremendous start up to 700 artists who are capable of producing a film like the one embedded above for virtually no money? You'd think such things would be happening all the time.
Anyway, as far as I know, there's no discussion of this film anywhere, so feel free to chime in below. I'm curious to hear what you have to say. As far as I'm concerned, this was one of the more entertaining films I've seen in a long time!