Whilst the world of animation can sometimes feel like it’s dominated by a mix of Disney/Pixar et al and a number of Asian studios, there is some fine work coming out of Europe. Most notably from Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon (Song of the Sea/The Breadwinner), UK’s Aardman Animations (Early Man/Arthur Christmas) and a number of French studios (Ernest & Celestine/The Triplets of Belville). Gints Zilbalodis’s feature-length debut, Away, suggests we should be looking further east as well.
After a mysterious crash landing, a young boy wakes up on an exotic island, all alone. As he tries to find his bearings, he’s pursued by a giant dark spirit, whose intentions are unclear. A motorbike appears and as he explores the land, he’s joined by a friendly songbird who guides them on their journey. Despite being relentlessly stalked, the duo attempt to piece together events and discover the real essence of the island.
Away is one of the more unusual animations you’re likely to see. It takes some time to get used to the design, which feels to me far too similar to a video game. However, it’s undeniably beautiful and imaginative. Indeed, the mix of immersive visuals and hypnotic soundtrack merely serves to draw you in. Immersing you within the quest. Away is a haunting and strange odyssey into a mysterious world.
Away opens in UK and Irish cinemas from 28 August.