NYICFF 2013: The Day of the Crows

narutaki This is my third, and final, French animation review from the magnificent NYICFF. I was overwhelmed by the selection on display, each have been very different from each other.

The Day of the Crows is an amazing tale of death and loss and the will to begin again. It does so with a little Ghibli influence and a keen eye for the human condition.

Pumpkin, a man of few words, has raised his son (who has no name so I will call him Boy) in a lush forest teaching him the ways of nature and survival and warning him never to leave the boundaries of the trees. Boy spends his days isolated with only the spirits of the forest for friends. But when Pumpkin is injured in a storm, Boy ventures out seeking help for his father which brings him to a nearby town.

As Pumpkin is being treated, Boy meets and stays with Manon and her father the village doctor learning the value of friendship and companionship. Pumpkin is resistant to staying as he is not unknown by the townspeople. Father and son come together as, over the course of the film, we learn of Pumpkin’s past and what brought him to the woods.

Death and spirits play a surprising role that becomes more clear as the story progresses. When Pumpkin and Boy return to the forest they must confront and embrace all that has happened. This also leads to some of the most brilliant pieces of animation in the show.

The new-found friendship between Boy and Manon is delightful. At first Manon is hesitant, Boy doesn’t even know how to bathe, but soon she finds the humor in the situation. And Manon quickly proves to be encouraging and fearless when it comes to Boy.

Their interactions are completely foreign and new to Boy; it is classic raised in the wild person meets and bonds with a modern one. But also in classic fashion there is something very true about their friendship.

One other thing that struck me when talking to a friend was how not American this movie felt. And I mean that as a major theatrical release, I wouldn’t expect to see these themes tackled in this way. This is one of the fantastic benefits of the NYICFF.

The Day of the Crows nearly eclipsed my love for Ernest & Celestine. What a wonderful film!

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