The Event is an animated short by Julia Pott based upon the poem by Tom Chivers. To avoid spoilers, you may prefer to simply watch it before reading. (That was your out!) The story reverse-chronicles the end of the world, while Pott injects an aesthetic that borders on storybook.
“For me, whenever I watch something dark or disturbing there needs to be a moment of reprieve–an element of humor to take you away from the intensity for a moment. Otherwise, it can be overwhelming,” Pott tells Co.Design. “In The Event, this ‘cute’ aesthetic became a way of softening the blow. Human situations acted out by more fantastical characters can make the narrative more digestible.”
Potts cites her inspiration of “endearing otherworldly creatures” found in films like Gremlins and E.T.. And to capture it, she didn’t just consider the go-to aesthetics of lovable aliens (like large, wide-spaced eyes that tug almost viscerally at our heartstrings), she actually invoked her own childhood innocence, channeling a unique perspective of death as reasoned by youth.
“As kids I think we are more willing to immerse ourselves in horror and gore and casual death–-I remember being fascinated by quicksand, ghosts, being beheaded,” Pott writes. “As I got older, I became less immune to the spooky, not wanting to embrace the strange as openly. Working on ‘The Event’ became incredibly cathartic, allowing my to indulge that side of myself.”
A rotted leg falls off like an old shoe. A Bambi-esque creature is beheaded with a pocket knife. They’re horrifying moments filtered through a naive cartoon world, all placed upon a backdrop of practical photography, grounding the uncanny, darkly whimsical story in real world context.
Needless to say, if you haven’t watched it yet, justify it as a coffee break and enjoy the disquiet.