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“Lost Link”, new stop motion animation depicts 19th century science

by Ace Damon
“Lost Link”, new stop motion animation depicts 19th century science

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In the movie, a pompous English naturalist finds the missing link between humans and chimpanzees: a literate bigfoot who wants to return to the Himalayas.

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Nov 8, 2019, 6:18 pm – Posted on Nov 8, 2019, 6:14 pm

(Laika / Press Release)

Telegraph. Subway. Telephone. Aquariums Ketchup. Time zones. The underdevelopment of Africa. The steampunk aesthetic. The old west. Darwin Moon Exploration. What do these things have in common? They all date from the second half of the 19th century – when the British Empire, under Queen Victoria, dominated 22% of the world's territories; US East Coast settlers headed to California for gold; and agrarian Brazil was ruled by D. Pedro II, a geek emperor who collected mummies, chatted with Victor Hugo and was a fan of meteorites.

Julio Verne – who in 1865 hit the moon spot where he would land Apollo 11 a century in advance – wrote his work in Paris, a few blocks from Charlie Cros, the inventor who proposed a method of communicating with the Martians using mirrors installed in the Field of Mars – the square on which it would be built from the Eiffel Tower in 1887 (the Statue of Liberty is also from that time).

The sober jackets and black top hats in yellowed photographs give the wrong impression of what the 19th century was like in Europe: a colorful and extravagant age of unwavering belief in science and technology whose mistakes were as influential and lasting as the hits: there was racism. . There was social inequality and income concentration generated by industrialization. There were disagreements over the sharing of colonies that led to World War I – shaping the contemporary world.

Lost Link – stop motion animation that premiered in Brazil on Thursday, November 7th – captures this atmosphere with precision. Mr. Lionel Frost is a young and pompous London naturalist, a follower of Darwin's theory of evolution. He is dedicated to seeking mythical monsters (such as Loch Ness) whose existence older naturalists call into question. Frost even stumbles on some radical bugs, but can't prove it: something always goes wrong in collecting evidence.

His dream is to enter a cartoon version of the Royal Society – the club of wealthy scientists who have been meeting in London since 1660 to share stories. But for that he must prove himself to the president: the arrogant lord Piggot-Dunceby, a surly rogue with an entourage of willingly humiliating followers. He does not believe that humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor, and considers Frost a delusional twat.

One day Frost receives a letter in children's handwriting: an anonymous sender reports that in a secluded, rainy corner of the western United States, there is a three-foot-tall, 290-kg, human-looking hairy creature waiting to be discovery. Looking forward to the opportunity to finally collect a relevant specimen, Frost sets off for the New World (the depiction of the Old West, it is said, is unheard of: instead of the cliche-wooded villages in the middle of a Texan desert, we see a damp village and mud (near Seattle today).

Once there, Frost meets Mr. Link: a lonely bigfoot who lives in a cave full of books, speaks fluent English and is aware that it may be the missing link between humans and chimpanzees. He is the smiling animal you see there in the image at the beginning of the text. And he has a request to Frost: for the Englishman to take him to the Himalayas, where his ancestors, the Tibetan Yetis, live.

The stop motion shooting technique involves shooting the characters – who are removable face dolls – in slightly different poses 24 times for every second of the movie. For example: Suppose Frost gives a smile that lasts two seconds. It is necessary to photograph the doll 48 times: in the first picture, the mouth is closed; at last, fully open. When these images are reproduced in rapid succession, the illusion of movement arises.

The faces were not articulate. You had to make a new face for each frame using an extremely advanced 3D printer. Thus, a single smile from Frost demanded to generate physical copies of his feature 48 times, each with only a little more open mouth than the previous one. There is patience. There were 39 thousand photos of Lionel, 27 thousand of Mr. Link and 13 thousand of Adelina (another character, which we will not comment to not give spoilers).

Filming a 20-second scene of the characters walking on an elephant's back took three months. Rendering took a total of 12,000 years – obviously split between many servers, otherwise the movie would never have come out. After all this work, nothing more fair than casting a respectful cast for the voice acting: the protagonist's voice is Hugh Jackman's, Adelina's, Zoe Saldana's, the villain is Stephen Fry. Too bad the national adaptation, besides arriving late (the feature film premiered in April in the US), did not keep up the standard.

Lost Link is a relief from the barrage of Disney slot machine remakes. Produced by Laika studio – the same person responsible for The Corpse Bride – the film re-signifies classic characters (such as Bigfoot and Loch Ness Monster), and contextualizes Darwin's work in his day: for adults and children, it's a class about what the world that received the theory of evolution was like.

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