Art of Animation

The Spine Of Night: A Brutally Ambitious Exploitation Epic

The Guardian experiences a nightmarish revelation upon first discovering the power of the bloom
Written by Noah Roy

One of my most comprehensive talking points lately has been to lament the paucity of horrific animation for a mature audience. Features that take on the surreal and psychedelic potential inherent in animated cinema, something that has long been under-exploited in Western markets outside of more specialized audiences. Movies like A masterpiece of Chilean surrealism wolf house And new great selections the home On Netflix, extract the potential for horror and adult fantasy in animation, but remain outliers.

While I highly doubt it The backbone of the night It’ll change the game and break free of this niche allure – it’s ultimately so indebted to cult past movies – that it totally deserves a semi-dedicated following on its own. It is flawed, yes, in large part due to apparent budget constraints giving it an inconsistent and often unattractive aesthetic, but even this is fitting given its discretion, importing many of the flaws endemic to its predecessors in the archetypal adult fiction, consisting of Largely from the subsequent works of Ralph Bakshi.

The most obvious of these technical issues lie in mismatched animation styles. The rotoscoped technique, which gives each animated character a supernatural sense of weight and anatomy, does not match the drawing style, which uses jagged black lines and pasty-block colors so lacking in texture that it looks a lot like the adult swimming comedy in its first season of the feature film release. Long. A common drawback with all rotoscop-inspected products is the lip syncs which have a very narrow margin of error, and any missynchronization would be very obvious and noticeable, as is the case here. Rotoscoping can do some things very well, others less so; It sometimes combines the advantages of both animation and live action, and sometimes only displays its drawbacks, convincing the viewer that either medium could have been better than the curdled mixture of the two.

Richard E. Grant plays the exhausted guardian of the prosperity of the gods and the divine truths it contains

The weak character animation often stands in stark contrast to the often stunning background art, which it hardly meshes at all with. The colors and light effects in such simple paintings give character and atmosphere to the world in which his characters live. There’s plenty of evocative character to both the designs and the shows, their outfits and poses conveying so much, and there’s a weird realism unique to the rotoscoping that this movie puts on so perfectly. It’s a shame that clothing and skin textures look so cheap with their flat color fills at the level of Microsoft Paint.

These criticisms may seem cold given the potential budget source, but there are some sequences in this movie that show how alternative creative decisions can overcome this shortcoming. The best scene in the movie is the flashback that shows the legend of the creation of this universe. With humans waging war on giant gods, it is narrated almost entirely in silhouette and it’s awesome! By making the designs simpler, it takes on a kind of shadow puppet purity and the best elements of colour, lighting and background can take over.

Fortunately, the story itself is strong enough to overcome the limitations of the animation being good enough to convey. The film begins with a mysterious naked woman wandering naked on a frozen mountainside to find her destination at its peak: a temple, where a solitary guard resides, observing an ethereal blue flower with indescribable magical power. In the scene straight out of Skyrim, here at the height of the world, talking to the Guardian. The woman is a medic (Lucy Lawless), a witch doctor from the bottom of the valley, who sets out to tell the Guardian (Richard E. Grant) her tale, an episodic tale of the death and destruction that occurred when the spores of the flower drifted downhill. her home. She and her tribe began to worship her revelation possessions, until strangers came to destroy her home, chain her and harness the powers of flowering for themselves. From there, the flower’s power entices others with its magic, to fall before its nihilistic signs and rise to tyrants, using its magical powers to conquer kingdoms and butcher or enslave thousands.

Picture Lucy Lawless Tzod, a witch doctor who comes to communicate with the Guardian

Many of the metaphors the story uses are familiar to many from dark epic fiction. The backbone of the night It works in the original models. An ambitious young researcher seeking knowledge. the tyrannical king of God craving for power; The idealistic young student seeking help; humble spiritual woman seeking enlightenment; The bitter warrior seeking revenge and countless thousands of peasants were crushed under their feet. Many of these characters seem to resonate throughout the stories, perhaps literally as the same people, perhaps reincarnations of the same narrative spirit, giving the episodic structure more coherence than it could have been. These familiar personality types are used to explore similar timeless themes: the corrupting influence of power and the cosmic and existential horror of one’s own insignificance in a world where one’s life has no value. As was eventually revealed, the central conflict lies in whether humanity is worthy of salvation and whether it is ready for enlightenment.

in his book Lyndon Johnson years, Robert Caro argued, contrary to Lord Acton’s axiom that absolute power completely corrupts, what power actually does is reveal. Nothing gives one a window into a person’s true self like placing them legitimately in a scenario where their actions cannot be challenged or overwritten. Given enough time, one’s true self will inevitably reveal itself once it is freed from opposition. This debate, between the revealing side of power and its corrupting side, is central The backbone of the night. At its core is a debate between the faltering Guardian, who believes humans will always descend into barbarism once they reach enlightenment and the power that comes through that enlightenment, and Tazoud, who still believes humans are capable of dignity and self-sacrifice for the sake of life itself. As much as there is nihilism The backbone of the night It would be wrong to call the film itself a work devoid of optimism or humanity, with the short interlude from which it takes its name and offers defiant promise.

Betty Gabriel plays Phae-Agura, an idealistic young scientist who keeps her power-crazed teacher at the point of a sword.

Despite its episodic nature, the narrative satisfactorily integrates into more than a series of variously compelling vignettes. The movie starts off rather slowly, taking some time to acclimate to the quirky retro aesthetic and, frankly, the story to get going. The second act is much more powerful, as we begin to follow a young scientist as she witnesses the downfall of her regime, presiding over an elitist, power-hungry tyrant, and remembering some of her most horrific and dangerous scenes. surreal moments the name of the rose. The movie peaks around moving into the third act with this great flashback sequence, which leads to a fairly strong climax.

There are certainly enough memorable sections that deserve attention and are a unique show off the beaten track. Evidently, the greater part of his allure comes from world-building which, although said world is quite familiar as the characters of the film, borrows heavily from the sword and sorcery works of Robert E. Howard, and navigates through the metaphor’s nest quickly enough that their brief nature becomes not only a blessing Rather a necessity. We need to quickly understand each new scenario and never be left behind.

Abigail Savage portraying Kestrelwren, one of a squad of elite aviation warriors

It earns its place as an adult animation, not only through the brutal nature of its subjects but through its visuals as well, with a massive amount of blood and death throughout. Tzod – and many other characters – spend their entire screen time almost completely nude, although they are generally non-sexual and subjective, and there is something undeniably refreshing about a fantasy epic whose heroine has realistically spacious hips and visible belly fat; A credible mother to a new world.

Despite what the animation leaves to be desired, directors Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King have achieved their desired homage to the brutal genre of sword and sorcery and to their technology and narrative masters, with a grim, exploitative, pseudo-animated epic that explodes at the seams with flesh and flesh. For those halfway devoted to the subgenre as it turns out, The backbone of the night Watching should be unacceptable, even if its allure is limited to fans of dark fantasy.

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Noah Roy

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