Cast-Ivan Labanda,Rafa Calvo,Albert Trifol Segarra
Movie type- Musical Animation
Release date 6th December 2023
Languages-French and Spanish
Duration-1 Hour 42 Minutes
Who would have thought that a simple story about the friendship of a Dog and a Robot could be one of the most touching and melancholic films of last year? And yet Pablo Berger’s animation fully exploits the potential of Sara Varon’s comic book, which has gained widespread critical acclaim. The story takes place in New York in the 1980s. The city seems familiar, but animals, not people, march on the streets. Our attention is drawn to a dog who lives alone in a block of flats and is so fearful that he locks the door several times. The recipe for his obvious sadness and unfulfillment comes straight from a television advertisement. The hero dials the number, gets the package, and builds himself a Robot. The machine becomes his best friend, but his happiness will not last long. Fate will separate the two characters – Robot will be stuck on a closed beach, and Dog will try to get him out of there. A seemingly trivial problem will turn into a great drama.
Berger was successfully involved in live-action cinema (” Śnieżka “) until suddenly he entered the world of animation and surprised everyone. ” The Dog and the Robot ” is distinguished by its aesthetic, clear lines, a large number of details that add to the world presented, and the complete abandonment of dialogues. The animals in the film communicate with each other through gestures, looks, and sounds, and the Spanish director adheres to the golden rule of “show, don’t tell”. His animation covers extreme registers: from lightness, humor, and childlike innocence to existential bitterness, longing, disappointment, and regret. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish whether the creator is closer to the young audience and the approach of a sensitive teacher, or to the insightful adult gaze. Especially the initial scenes showing the characters’ happiness and carefree fun may seem deceptive. Berger, however, is not about manipulating our emotions, but about revealing the painful difference that separates desires and imaginations from reality.
The original title, “Robot Dreams”, refers to the fantasies of the immobilized hero on the beach. He dreams about the possibility of returning to his friend, but every vision, even the more probable one, is shattered. The animators show off in the musical sequence when large dancing flowers surround the Robot, forming the shape of a dog’s head and marking his path to the city. So we imagine what we cannot have, or what we have suddenly lost and what we sincerely miss – suggests the director. We also share the purpose of these ideas with people close to us. The Robot thinks about the Dog, and the Dog thinks about finding a good companion to fill the void, endure the separation, and not break down. The film provides a lot of material for reflection and tears, but at the same time sows a seed of encouragement.
After all, the most important themes here are urban loneliness and a liberating relationship with another being. When a Dog looks intently at a couple in love, it’s hard not to be concerned about his fate. However, the director does not plunge into darkness and does not abandon the hero within the four walls of his apartment. The animation gives noble lessons about the importance and (im)persistence of friendship, the trap of constant isolation and fear of the world, and the acceptance of other people’s happiness that blooms in our absence. The finale is not based on a classic happy ending, revealing the maturity and ambiguity of the story, and cleverly avoiding the trap of banality. The dreams and fantasies of the main characters repeatedly suggest scenarios that would turn their fate into a sentimental fairy tale. Fortunately, the author chooses a deeper reflection on the bond between Dog and Robot, which opens the former up, allows him to regain the joy of the simplest pleasures, and erases the stigma of alienation in the New York crowd. Anthropomorphizing animals generally makes it easier to empathize with the characters and universalizes the most important themes. No matter how similar raccoons, crocodiles or monkeys may be to people, there is no need for dialogue to communicate the wide range of emotions and states affecting the inhabitants of the metropolis. We can talk about hidden desires (closeness, acceptance) and our tormenting dilemmas (why can’t I fit in?) through metaphors and images that leave more space for the viewer’s interpretations and experiences. The real strength of “The Dog and the Robot” lies in this wise accessibility.
The animation is also included in the long list of New York films, and individual frames can be compared to Woody Allen’s ” Manhattan “. We get to know the American city on a micro-scale (apartments, shops, bars) and macro-scale (Central Park), seeing its living, pulsating tissue, and atomized community. The constant rush, movement, and noise do not obscure the loss and alienation of individuals like Pies. Although you can peek into other people’s lives through apartment windows, it is not so easy to become an important part of it. This is aptly illustrated by the friendship between the dog hero and Duck, encountered accidentally in the park. The hope for a long and beautiful friendship is shattered by a farewell postcard from Europe. New York is a space of instability and uncertainty, where it is better to have a robot companion by your side than to count on establishing a lasting relationship with anyone. The film does not fall into silent admiration for the metropolis, but it does not take away its specific charm. When the characters wander the wide streets, roller skate, or visit the beach by the ocean, we understand what an energetic and heterogeneous entity this city is. All you need to do is stick your head out of your home and let yourself be carried away by the adventure. ” The Dog and the Robot ” is a non-obvious guide to two cinematic themes: New York and friendship. Treat this animation as a must-read and watch
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