SUMMARY: A group of prisoners who wander a barren landscape begin to wonder if a distant light holds the key to their salvation.
WHY IT’S HERE: With ‘Atraksion’ Raoul Servais used digital animation for the first time to create a startling Icarean tale of a group of convicts who drag large balls and chains around an indistinct landscape. Hoping to escape this purgatory, one of the convicts is drawn towards a distant light. What he ultimately discovers is both surprising and cleverly suggestive of a wider point about the prisons we build for ourselves. Servais makes the point abundantly clear with a great final image. Combining live action actors with elements of digital animation, ‘Atraksion’ creates a beautifully desolate world not dissimilar in atmosphere to that seen in Wolfgang and Christoph Lauenstein’s ‘Balance’. As with many of his previous films, Servais manages to combine weighty themes and a feeling of foreboding with a dark sense of fun. There are moments in ‘Atraksion’ that feel like classic clowning, such as an attempt to light a cigarette that results in a squashed foot, and the unexpected reveal two thirds of the way through the short seems so odd at first that it can’t help but elicit laughter.