Every Thursday, Chris Robinson takes a look at films from animation’s past. Today: Ichthys (2005)
Here’s a beautiful and seemingly forgotten stop motion film (like so many good indie shorts) from around 2005. Now the title Ichthys is the Greek word for fish. The word is also used to denote the ‘jesus fish’. So, fish here seems to represent the soul… or Christ. Now, being very much appalled by religion, I’ll just push all that icky stuff aside. It’s also easy to read the film was about a man who is slowing peeling away (mortality) and in search of something. He seems lost, without purpose and perhaps hopes to find the answer at this shrine/restaurant. In the end, he is restored through a meal, through his soul. He needed to flee his routine to find himself again. No Christianity necessary there.
It’s also a film about patience, maybe about how being bored and just waiting around is actually okay. It feels relevant today. We are constantly distracted. Noise assaults everywhere. We all need to occasionally unplug, step away from all the noise and recentre. In that sense, Ichthys has more of a Zen tone in that sense. It’s a testament to the strength of the film that the story is general enough that it can be read any which way you please.
Existential stuff aside, Ichthys is a stunning work of stop motion technique fused with an almost chamber play atmosphere. It’s got that usual heavy Polish vibe but this one is infused with sparks of humour and tension. Kind of an philosophical detective short ala Beckett.