‘Renaissance’ movie review: breathtaking animation style over substance

A breathtaking, beautiful, highly stylized animated film, Christian Volckman´s Renaissance represents the height of style over substance.

But while the story is nothing special, the animation is so good – created by artists, not just computer technicians – that we are willing to forgive the story flaws. Design is a mixture of futuristic action and 1950´s film noir, using a stark monochrome black & white color scheme (with occasional details in color).

Style has been accomplished using rotoscoping, a technique popularized by Ralph Bakshi in the 1970´s and 80´s and used wonderfully by Richard Linklater in Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, which traces a live actor´s movements and merges them with cell animation.

This is the best and most accomplished the technique has ever looked, however, and Volckman´s film is near-revolutionary.

2054 Paris: the city overshadowed by mega-corporation Avalon, which specializes in youth and beauty products. One of their researchers has been kidnapped, and detective Barthélémy Karas is assigned to the case.

We follow Karas as he delves into the case, forging a relationship with the missing girl´s sister and discovering more and more about Avalon and exactly what they are after. While the story isn´t bad, it´s a bit too familiar, combining elements from the films it has taken stylistic inspiration from; it almost plays out as a combination of Blade Runner and The Third Man.

Interesting throughout, but when you´re watching such a breakthrough in style, it´s a bit disappointing not to see the screenplay take similar ambition.

Still wonderful – one of the best looking films in recent memory, topping Sin City in style; and not just as a standalone effort – this is much closer to Frank Miller´s graphic comics than Robert Rodriguez´s film. A real treat for animation fans.


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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