Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Cathedral

Director: Tomek (Tomasz) Baginski
Writer: Jacek Dukaj
Producers: Jarek Sawko, Piotr Sikora
Year of release: 2002
Country: Poland
Reviewed from: UK festival screening (BAF! 02)

At only six and a half minutes long, this stunning animation packs more images and ideas than many features. It very deservedly won the Best Digital Film category at the 2002 Bradford Animation Festival.

The film is based on a story by Jacek Dukaj and is basically about a man arriving at a massive gothic cathedral on the edge of a huge cliff. That’s pretty much it as far as a discernible story goes, but it doesn’t matter, because this short film is about visuals.

The cathedral is a massive gothic-organic monstrosity, constantly growing and twisting, and the man who arrives (the pilgrim) becomes part of it. Faces and bodies reach from the walls, arches and pillars split and merge. The whole thing is rendered in the most amazing 3D CGI, beautifully directed and backed with wonderful music (by Adam Rosiak).

Trying to review something this short yet this visual is a thankless task. Suffice to say that if you can watch The Cathedral without your jaw dropping to the floor at the sheer visual splendour on offer here - not just what is shown but how it is shown - then you’re simply not human.

As well as the BAF! award, The Cathedral won best animated short at Siggraph 2002 and also took home artFutura and Animago awards. Director Baginski spent 15 months working on the film at Platige Image, the Warsaw-based effects and animation house where he works (Platige provided many effects for the recent Polish remake of Quo Vadis).

The Cathedral is a visual poem, a fantastic visual poem. Do not pass up any chance you get to see this short film, which is available on DVD with 45 minutes of subtitled extras.

MJS rating: A+
review originally posted before November 2004

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