Welcome to The Interlude Recommendations, or Interlude Rex, a series dedicated to suggesting various forms of pop culture we find exciting and/or thought-provoking, to you. It will include, but will not be limited to, movies, tv shows, anime, comic books, music albums, and documentaries.
I am your host, Masud Zaman, a self-proclaimed, unrecognised film buff, totally susceptible to getting shamed by a real one out there. Join me as some of us, and I bring to you content that nobody asked for, but everybody might crave, although there’s a very slim chance of that as well.
EPISODE 001: Jibaro of Love Death and Robots
Today’s recommendation is the ninth episode of the critically acclaimed Netflix series “Love Death and Robots,” an adult animated anthology series about all those things within the quotation marks and so much more, but mostly those 3 things. Directed by Alberto Mielgo, famous for his animation work in remarkable projects like Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005), both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Spiderman: Into the Spider Verse (2018), it is safe to say that the man is a proven and celebrated craftsman. It is co-written by Tim Miller, the guy who gave us the Deadpool films and is also a co-producer of the entire series.
It follows the many themes of toxic relationships and greed from Mielgo’s previously directed episode of the show, The Witness (2019). But, instead of following the similar worlds of urban landscapes or futuristic environments, Mielgo decided to try something new by keeping the setting in an unspecified medieval timeline.
Jibaro and the Siren
The story revolves mostly around Jibaro and the Siren; though not specified, the soldiers depicted are assumed to be bronze adorned Spanish conquistadors who have their precious lives taken as the screams of the sirens pull them to the heart of the lake and throw them into a frenzy of whistling swords and killing each other. Jibaro, being the deaf Conquistador-like figure that he is, can’t make any sense of it as the lack of hearing proved to be a blessing.
Jibaro has been lauded as a downright weird experience that can only be likened to a fever dream. The impeccable animation, followed by the immaculate production design, is stunning. From a screenplay standpoint, it was astonishing to see how the writers were able to convey such deep hidden messages within the limited runtime of the story. It makes you think what Marvel and DC can do if they focused on writing a good story and not spoonfeeding us with unwanted propaganda in the name of representation.
The makers masterfully utilised the uncanny valley that the other animators so desperately tried to avoid in making animation. The constant switching from realistic environments to hyper-driven rigged faces of the soldiers combine to produce a nightmare-Esque experience pretty indicative of the satanic series of events we are about to uncover. The editing adds to the anxiety, dread and sense of horror, as it builds an atmosphere when the shaky camera movements cross-cut with the screams of the Siren, reminding us of the scenes in some live-action films (The Bourne trilogy, for example, we don’t count the final two films).
I felt as if I was in a psychedelic experience as the events slowly unfolded before me. The people who choreographed and brought the character of the Siren, or the Golden Woman as the end credits mention her, deserve all the accolades coming to them. From the attention to detail in the design of the ornaments to the visually pleasing and horrifying movements and screams of the character, I was fascinated throughout the 17-minute runtime.
A Little about the Story
Most of us are not going to understand what this episode might not tell us within the 17 minutes we are willing to spend on it. There are no dialogues that specify an action, for there are only visuals to lend us some exposition in order to grasp the story as a whole. It is rich with metaphors of toxicity in relationships, the limitlessness of grief, and one’s unbecoming through their own desires. Sounds nauseating? Watch something else. Sounds interesting? That’s the most we can give away without spoiling it for you. Jibaro contains characters that are not black or white from a moral perspective.
So, what is Jibaro at its core? A story about morally grey beings trying to “consume” each other? Is it a mere horror tale about an unassuming man ending up in unforgiving circumstances due to his greed? Or is it just a metaphor for red flags in relationships?
Jibaro is a thrilling experience that combines visual aesthetics with breathtaking sound and character design. The level of work Alberto Mielgo and his team have put in can be regarded as one of a New Age of Cinema, combining visual styles inspired by live-action and seamlessly integrating it into the animation world. It doesn’t matter which genre you prefer; we recommend you watch this masterpiece.
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