This well-crafted, thought provoking short film by Volker Schlecht is reviewed by Don Perro.
In 1980 I reviewed Raging Bull in an art school homework assignment. I didn't like the film - all that blood on the camera lens was too much for this sensitive first year student. A week later my paper came back with more red on it than there was on De Niro's paunchy face: the instructor loved the film, disagreed with me and wanted to let me know everything there was to love about it. Seventeen years later, I'm ready to try this again... Rue Ros is a short film produced at the Burg Giebichenstein, Hochschule fuer Kunst und Design in Halle, a town just outside of Leipzig, Germany. Volker Schlecht, the filmmaker, has created a thoughtful work of just over five minutes.
The Rue Ros is revealed to be a moving treadmill upon which various adults walk. We see these people reflected through the rose colored glasses, literally, of a child who has a special music box that must be put away as he, or she, is encouraged to be swept along with the rest. The walks of the people we see are as varied as the characters; studies of personality through gait. We hear the footsteps, ticking like a metronome, as birds provide accompaniment in the background. The ticking of the steps soon becomes overwhelmed by the tolling of a bell as panic begins to set in. People quicken their paces. A little old lady, walking with the help of a cane, is the first to meet her demise
The theme of walks and walk cycles is common in student films, often, I suspect, because re-using drawings is as tempting to students as it is to studio accountants. But Rue Ros goes beyond that: Volker Schlecht's characters are realistic and well-drawn, and are reminiscent of Bill Plympton's complex drawing style. The character animation concentrates on the walks, which are effective satirical sketches of people on the move. The varied and interesting camera angles show that Schlecht is far more concerned with telling his story using strong design than with time-saving devices.
Another time-saving device enjoyed by students, and again, accountants, is the use of levels. However, the levels here are used quite creatively to assist in telling the story. The animation is drawn on semi-transparent paper which allows us to see two levels at once. Unlike cel animation, the levels in Rue Ros are easy to differentiate. The lower drawings have a pale color and soft edges because of the top sheet of paper. The top drawings are bright and clear. Schlecht uses this visible difference to focus the viewer's attention. Characters move to the top level becoming sharp, when the animator wants us to look at that figure, much like a director pulling focus in a live-action film. Rue Ros is a witty, and rather scary, look at the hurried pace of life through a child's reflective glasses. The film has already won awards in the festival circuit and if you get a chance to see it, step off your treadmill and take a seat. Don Perro is an animator and designer currently coordinating the Commercial Animation Program at Capilano College in North Vancouver, Canada.
Download a Quicktime movie from the film Rue Ros by Volker Schlecht. © Volker Schlecht.