Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2014

Zero: To Infinity and Beyond

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July 8, 2011

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Zero: To Infinity and Beyond

Born into a world where numerical rank determines one’s status, Zero is unfortunately ranked as his name would suggest. If being a 5 is to be mediocre, then to be brandished with a 0 across the chest is to be less than existent, and this is how Zero is forced to live his life, inconsequential and meaningless to those who would be of a better social standing than he. Spending his life being persecuted against due to the unfortunate number sprawled upon his exterior, Zero is heartbroken and alone, but after a chance encounter with an equal, he finds a real shot at love and happiness in a world that has been nothing but unforgiving to him.

Written and directed by Christopher Kezelos with his wife Christine Kezelos acting as producer, Zero is a stop motion animation short that takes a very classic approached to a children’s morality tale. With each character in this world being represented numerically and having that number state where they stand in life speaks to many issues that have been, and always will be, faced in humanity. The numbers that represent them are either proudly or – in the case of Zero and his new companion – shamefully worn on the front of their bodies for everyone to see, and these numbers being the basis for social standing calls to issues such as elitism, classism and, most significantly, racism.

It’s pure judgment of someone’s exterior by those that believe they are better due to something that they themselves did not actually determine. What does determine who someone is is by the actions that they take and the people that they come to be, and in the case of those that populate the world of Zero, they are truly the ones that are sad with their shallow appraisal of others. And while they can judge, reject and even tyrannize Zero and his newfound companion for being, well, “zeros,” it is their inner strength and love that shines through the chaos of living in such oppression.

All of these themes are typical of classic, morality based children’s storytelling, and the seriousness in which Zero is taken is mixed with a visual aesthetic that calls to the young (and old) viewer like the most delicious of sugary treats. With some of the most impressive stop motion I have ever seen, Zero is absolutely gorgeous. The adorable and wonderfully detailed yarn characters are soft and almost cuddly to the eye, which makes them very attractive to children. It’s accessible visually, but like the finest fairytales and children’s stories, the dark themes are as present as the visual splendor.

Zero is a film and a character that both kids and adults can relate to for a number of reasons, and any film or story that can speak to the deep seeded human emotions that are present in this varying age demographic is one that is always welcoming. Especially in a time when this sort of challenging storytelling is somewhat rare. Nowadays, kids are simply no more than numbers for marketing teams and crutches for the media that has conditioned parents to be over protective of their kids, instead of simply letting them grow and learn for themselves.

For all the background goodies pertaining to Zero and the filmmakers, check out www.zeroshortfilm.com.

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About Author

Matt-suzaka

Matt likes long walks on the beach, going to the disco on weekends and Powdered Toast Man cereal. He also considers eating hair as being pretty good too. He's a huge fan of all things horror and all things film, and enjoys nothing more than writing about it. You can join his quest for cinematic Anarchy at http://chucknorrisatemybaby.blogspot.com/.

  • http://uramyx.com uramyx

    That was really ace. Well animated. I loved that it was like those little voodoo doll keyrings you get. Nice little write up to boot :)

    • http://www.chucknorrisatemybaby.com/ Matt-suzaka

      Thanks! I look forward to seeing what else this guy does in the future. It’s nice to see the love for Stop Motion is still there for some.

  • Jerb

    Beautiful film!

    Nothing beats stop motion, it has a realism and texture that digital animation has yet to capture.

    • http://www.chucknorrisatemybaby.com/ Matt-suzaka

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Jerb. I’m really not a big fan of the stuff that Pixar and Dreamworks put out simply because the animation style tends to look dated way too quickly and it doesn’t grab my my eye like traditional animation and stop motion. Some stuff does look great on an artistic level, but there is something about stop motion that’s tangible and the emotions are conveyed in way that cannot be captured visually with digital. Hopefully with the success of Fantastic Mr. Fox (which was indeed fantastic), we will see the art of stop motion used for big screen fare in the future.

      • http://jerbeh.blogspot.com Jerb

        Totally, I’d love to see more stop motion in the future!
        I don’t really poo poo 3d animation, but I do agree on the “looks dated way to quickly”.

        I like how they blend the two mediums so that the cgi enhances parts of the stop motion. Coraline looked stunning and Wallace and Grommet was awesome.

        I haven’t seen Fantastic Mr Fox yet (whoops)

  • http://uramyx.com uramyx

    Fantastic Mr Fox is incredible! A must see! Stop motion is a craft all in itself. The fact that there is full set building and character construction along with all of your designs and storyboard etc and it doesn’t just take a few tweaks in maya or max or something it’s proper skill, on top of all of that you have to move them bit by bit just to get that full illusion of movement perfect. It is totally time consuming, but so so worth it to see such a spectacular film at the end. I toally agree that it is hard to make 3D films these days. It will always look quite dated even just like a year or so down the line. This little film just goes to show what animation needs more of. Hard work and effort. My degree is 3D animation and I still personally prefer stop motion and 2D, anything that is going to hold up it’s quality at the end of the day.

    • http://www.chucknorrisatemybaby.com/ Matt-suzaka

      Indeed, Fantastic Mr. Fox is a wonderful film aesthetically and narratively. It would have been a great film regardless of animation style, but it is the use of stop motion that gives it a certain texture, and authenticity that Anderson and everyone involved made something they truly cared about and believed in.

      There’s a season why traditional animation like The Peanuts and claymation/stop motion like the Christmastime TV specials that play every year are still around after many decades in existence, and that is the heart they bring, as well as the visual prowess that is so completely endearing. Truly an art form unlike many.