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Review: 'WiNDUP'

WiNDUP is the nine-minute animated short film from writer/director Yibing Jiang.

It is a tender story set in China, about a father’s love and devotion for his young ailing daughter who lies unconscious in a hospital bed.

His only means of communicating with her is through a tune he plays with the mechanism of a music box, which he plays endlessly in the hopes of a response.

The film is a great example of what a filmmaker can accomplish in the span of less than 10 minutes. It is in the great tradition of similar short subject films that can say so much in so little time.

Somehow, it manages to create an alternate universe of people and places and a story that can touch everyone everywhere.

The beauty of a movie like WiNDUP is its universal appeal. It escapes language barriers by having no dialog.

In a sense, it’s an updated silent movie, except for the fact that even silent films had insert titles indicating what the characters were saying.

WiNDUP goes beyond dialog in exploring a theme that touches love and humanity in a pure sense.

The other universal element at work—very effectively—is the music. Music reaches across cultural barriers and boundaries in a way that everyone can understand.

In this case, it is the simple, hum-able, tinkling tune that all of us have heard as children emanating from the cranking of a music box. It is both evocative and emotional in a fundamental way.

WiNDUP keeps it simple. And the simplicity works.

The animation is colorful and enchanting with a film look that often mimics the appearance of a movie shot through the lens of a real camera.

There is implied depth of field with objects in the foreground and background rendered in soft focus.

There is light refraction and reflection that one would normally see in a live action movie shot through the glass of camera lenses. It all adds up to a sense of realism.

Within it, the characters remain the stuff of animation with their own stylized look that is detailed and richly rendered, fully realized without being photo-realistically real.

It’s been said that animation may be the purest form of cinema. The animator can create precisely what he or she imagines.

There is no compromise in terms of casting, costumes, locations, performances or any of the creative choices that are always a compromise for live action movies.

So what we have here is a very personal, partially autobiographical story from Yibing Jiang and her talented animator Jason Keane, whose DNA traces back to his veteran Disney animator uncle Glen Keane and grandfather Bill Keane, who created "Family Circus."

While digital animation in the past was usually an elaborate, time consuming, expensive proposition due to the creation, rendering and completion of a project, WiNDUP benefitted from the use of real time engines that were capable of processing material at an accelerated speed, allowing the production team, spread over ten countries around the globe to make changes quickly and efficiently.

The results are impressive.

And they point the way to further advances in computer graphics and animation that will open the doors to animators and their imaginations.


WiNDUP can be seen on YouTube.

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