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Film Review: Lifeblood

Lifeblood, an animated short directed by Nicholas Tory, is an exploration of Bourke Shire, an isolated part of Australia with a small river running through its otherwise arid landscape. The panoramic 2D animation style leaves you awestruck and reminds you how powerful the beauty of nature can be.

The short follows a white family with a young boy on a car ride across town, presumably on a road trip. As they navigate their hot, fly-invested drive, narration and flashbacks to the Aboriginal roots of the place play in and out.

The flashbacks have warmth when they show the Aboriginal community together fishing, joyful. The flashbacks also explore Aboriginal hardship as Aboriginals are shown robbed of their home and their culture.

A spiritual body with glowing eyes is a visual motif throughout that serves as the transition device for the film. It literally weaves its spectral body in and out of natural and man-made things suggesting it is the connection to the heavens and all things on Earth - the lifeblood. Its presence is comforting, awesome, and haunting all at once.

Jonathan Nix’s score has a jungle-like sound with its focus on the xylophone. It builds but always stays subtle. The sound mix instead emphasizes nature’s orchestra - the downpour of rain, the buzzing of flies. Remarkably, there is no dialogue from the characters in the film. The visuals clearly explain the story. The only dialogue present is narration.

During the family’s journey, the white family and an Aboriginal one have an interaction on the road. They appear to become friends. The reinforcement of goodwill toward one another is inspiring, a solid reinforcement of the piece’s theme: connection. This kindness, however, means nothing if this precious land with all its history is not looked after. The narrator expresses that the temperatures are rising.

Visuals of cracked dirt, torrential rain, sparse animals all showcase the effects of climate change in the short. It is a stark reminder that the world is changing whether we like it or not, and it is up to humanity to do something about it.

From its beautiful animation bathed in hues of purple and yellow to its nature-forward soundscape, Lifeblood is an artful triumph. It unlocks a sense of wonder for Abriginal culture and spiritualism, and provides a strong reminder of how precious life and having a home truly is.


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