Even if for modern human the magical, mystical thinking has lost its power, being replaced by pragmatism and scientific evidence, many communities continue to see in the small and great joys of life a miracle that only a subtler universal mechanism can ensure. It is quite possible that the fundamental message of the ‘Whale Fall‘ animation, that death doesn’t exist, being just a passage to a higher stage in the cosmic hierarchy, will not surprise many spectators, whether they are followers of a pragmatic or mystical thinking. However, director Yiyuan Yuan doesn’t intend to create in her project a rigid lesson or a more or less scientific proof of the necessity of a spiritual value hierarchy that exceeds the exigencies of the reality in which we live, but to succinctly depict the way in which human attachment, love, and admiration manage to overcome biological limitations. Interpreting this project from the perspective of the cyclicality of our existence, death loses its intensity, becoming just a more special means of communication and communion that defies the constraints of materiality specific to the living world. Accepting this “truth,” we can see in Yiyuan Yuan’s short animation an optimistic and touching cinematic experiment that, even though it is possible to leave indifferent many followers of modern nihilism, succeeds in synthesizing in a few minutes a deep attachment relationship who, defying the barriers to death, crosses years to spiritually form future generations.
Designed rather as a clip whose imagistic suggestive force can offset the absence of replies to communicate its own artistic stake, this somewhat experimental animation is an exercise in admiration that the director dedicates to her grandfather. By basing her project on a metaphor explaining in a poetic manner the symmetries defining the existence of all beings on earth (as a whale’s corpse becomes a new universe for millions of organisms, so the death of people opens the way to a more refined communication with other worlds), this animation renders the emotional bond between a grandfather and his granddaughter who surpasses the emotional shock of the old man’s death, with the help of philosophical aphorisms with which he wrote his own literature.
Although it is quite possible that this narrative stack doesn’t surprise many spectators with its originality, Yiyuan Yuan’s animation has the advantage of concentrating in a few minutes a deep family relationship that doesn’t need the premises of a spectacular storyline to be able to touch any kind of spectator. Balanced chromaticity, accompanied by a constant soundtrack with Asian inflections, outlines a calm, meditative atmosphere, while surrealistic images or Chinese ideograms that counterpoint the tragic moments of everyday life manage to define a sensible and optimistic project about the power of admiration and love that is stronger than death.