It was hard to find something for this week, especially with so much coming up in the animation world: the premiere of Amphibia, Aggretsuko Season 2 and Toy Story 4 are all coming up. All of which I’m super excited about but there’s just not enough time to review one of them before today.
And plenty will be written about these, but I doubt very little has been written about the little gem I found called Pachamama, It’s far from the perfect movie; it’s definitely weak narratively and it’s a generic coming-of-age story but I love the unique art style (well most of it) and it actually taught me something.
I had never heard of this Andes culture; I hadn’t known of any South American pre-colonization cultures that weren’t Aztec, Mayan or Inca, so that was pretty cool. I had to Google a lot of the stuff, since the film didn’t give me a sense of when it was taking place until later on and I had no knowledge of the society, but that’s fine.
The film follows a young boy, named Telpupai, who has dreams of being a Shaman. His village lives a relatively peaceful existence even though they are ruled over by the Incas. One day, after making a gift of food to their goddess Pachamama, an Aztec tax collector takes a sacred statue of theirs.
So Telpupai, later joined by Naira, a village girl, to get it back. However, many things stand in their way. It gets dark at points, somebody explicitly dies on screen, a mentor dies, and they show her mummified corpse (though not in a frightening way. It’s obviously shown that she was important to her village) and of course the colonization… Yeah.
The first bit of the film makes it appear as though the Incas will be the main villain, but once the Inti, the human incarnation of the sun god, of the Incas gives them the statue back, the Spanish invaded possible kill all the Incas and chase down the kids for their golden statue…
It’s not a bad thing; I think it certainly would have been interesting to see more of the clash in cultures between the Incas and Telpupai’s village but I understand why the choice was made. It was just a little jarring for me, as there was little foreshadowing.
But the film isn’t strictly set in reality; the gods, and Shaman interact; the Shaman can transform and at the end of the movie three small seeds turn into enough food to keep an entire village fed for a year in a very short amount of time.
I won’t use the word magic, since that seems disrespectful. It’s obviously faith.
The real winner in this short film is its animation style; it’s very whimsical and makes good use of color and shapes. It reminds of Cartoon Saloon animation except it’s computer generated. My only pet peeve was the noses and how they looked like to be helmets or painted on overlapping the bottom half the face in a weird way. (It’s possible it was meant to look like it was painted… I don’t know anything about the customs)
But it’s a unique style that really stands out and still manages to capture the beauty of its setting and the movement is still very fluid. I’m glad that somebody tried something new for once. For the kind of movie it is, it’s wonderful and heartwarming.
It really doesn’t try to talk down to anyone and is just celebrating this very small culture that most people probably don’t know anything about and talk about their mother goddess and introduce some of their traditions and ideas. That’s a very honorable goal and something that’s hard to do, without taking the time explaining every single thing but the movie refrains from explaining and just lets it exist.
It’s good. Again, it’s not an Oscar movie and it’s geared towards a younger crowd so things are simplified, but if you love Song of the Sea or other Cartoon Saloon films, this is certainly a movie you should take the time to watch.
And that’s the scoop.
Year of release: 2019
Length: 1 hr 11 minutes
Director/Writers: Juan Antin
Writers: Patricia Valeix, Nathalie Hertzberg
Voice Actors: Adam Moussamih, Charli Birdgenau, Vlastra Vrana, Alexandre Harough
If you liked this watch: Studio Ponoc’s “Modest Heroes” is modest and mediocre in its presentation.