Originally written for Cinemaaxis.com
The Mountain of SGaana starts with a fisherman buried in his phone, until he sees the ‘mouse woman’, a character from Haida mythology, who begins to knit a spiritual universe that the skipper is far from ready for. Once we plunge into the spiritual universe, a couple are stranded on a beach. A man runs into the water with his spear to catch some food, only to be plunged into a incredibly imaginative underwater universe filled with shape-shifting killer whales and many other strange creatures. His partner plunges into the water to find him, facing her own hurdles.
Rendered in a style influenced by Haida art and culture, the animation in The Mountain of SGaana is certainly unique; an effective technique used throughout the film to separate the real world from the spirit world is a change in animation style. Another interesting and effective technique is the way the screen is often split into different sections, each representing a different point of view of the situation. These sections are separated by more traditional Haida art, lending the film an ethereal, dreamlike quality.
At is core, this is a tale about loss and retrieval. The film turns this simple tale into a fantastically animated surreal experience that dives into another world, many worlds, while occasionally and seamlessly transitioning to the skipper on the boat, connecting the spirit world to the real. An incredibly inventive and creative experience, let’s hope that director Christopher Auchter moves forward onto bigger projects, as this film looks amazing and possesses the quality of being able to be watched many times.
One short of a sixer, amazing independent animated film.
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