BUTTERFLIES (2012) Short Film Review

Directed by: Isabel Peppard
Starring (voices): Rachel Griffiths, Nicholas Hope, Henry Nixon, Honey Spence

I was fortunate enough to attend the closing night of Melbourne's Monster Fest this month and was treated to not one but two brilliant films. The Soska sisters' latest feature AMERICAN MARY was preceded by the short stop motion film BUTTERFLIES from Aussie director Isabel Peppard. After premiering at the Melbourne International Film Festival earlier this year BUTTERFLIES was invited to screen at the Sitges International Film Festival in Spain where festival organizers hailed it as "A short destined to become an instant stop motion classic"
BUTTERFLIES follows Claire (voiced by Rachel Griffiths) who as a young girl dreamed of becoming an artist. Later in life however she finds herself barely getting by as she sells her drawings to passers by on the street. One day business man Dalton Hearst (voiced by Nicholas Hope) recognises her talent and gives her a job illustrating greeting cards. But although the prospect seems inviting at first is this manufactured art destroying her imagination?

Isabel gave the audience a short introduction to the film, describing how important and personal the film is and also mentioning that this 12 minute stop motion animation took 2 whole years to produce. Construction of the set pieces and dolls took a whole 12 months (the dolls themselves taking a month each to create) and shooting took up the remaining second year. Taking these figures into account it's obvious that a lot of love and effort has been put into BUTTERFLIES and watching it only reinforces that feeling.
Both the sets and the dolls are superbly detailed and the unique visuals create a very bleak but also beautiful world with a kind of Victorian industrial steam punk aesthetic. Everything including the visuals the monologues and the orchestral score come together and the film unfolds like some sort of Gothic fairytale with horror elements which manifest themselves in both the decaying butterflies of the film's title and also upon Claire's co-workers as she begins to understand what their loss of creativity has done to them and threatens to do to her. BUTTERFLIES is easily one of the more unique and satisfying films I have seen in quite some time.

BUTTERFLIES is still doing the festival rounds so keep an eye on the website and Facebook page for further screenings and if you have the opportunity to see it I really recommend doing so.

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