Oh, the ever present case of mistaken identities. Where an action serves to demonstrate that our consequences on another can be remedied by gentle analysis of a grander picture. Such is the case in Yung-Han Chang and Kimberly Knoll’s No Robots, an almost neo-Expressionist animation set in a time where the human populace have turned against their mechanical counterparts. This concept of course, has long been discussed throughout a host of different media, highlighted smartly in this film through the image of the book Dune by author Frank Herbert.
In No Robots, the idea of an AI-banned society manifests itself in the form of a shopkeeper’s irksome battle with a small, non-threatening machine with a penchant for soya milk. In almost slapstick fashion, the film culminates in a chase between man and machine in the backwater territory behind the shop. Slapstick becomes poignancy, however, in an ending that perhaps belies the concurrent tendencies of student filmmakers.
Your chosen aesthetic is always paramount when deciding to create an animated film. Sometimes, filmmakers drift towards certain niches that happen to be en mode, but they don’t necessarily mix with promising patterns. Thankfully, the art-style here is beautifully realised, not because it is wonderfully drawn in and of itself, but because it adheres to the gradually changing aspects of the film.
Chang and Knoll have also broached the grander topic of judgemental attitudes and wobbly moral standards within the confines of a quaint, whimsical tale. The shopkeeper’s initial misconstruction is akin to the ways in which we, as human beings, make occasionally incongruous determinations based on what we’ve been led to believe. Why do most demographics have these strange, mimetic impulses to lap up what higher powers dictate without even contemplating questioning what they’re being told? It’s this question that No Robots has managed to exude in quite captivating style, taking us by the hand on a small, but important journey of one man’s misjudgement and its relative, proportionate relationship to grandiose issues of civil obedience, and blind compliance.
It’s impressive to think that this is a student made film. There’s a definite maturity to its subject matter, not just in what it deals with, but how it approaches its thematic elements and brings them together with both preciseness and clarity. The animation, whilst not your traditional take, works seamlessly with the underlying connotations of the film, endeavouring to highlight some of the dysfunctional elements of society.
Oh, the ever present case of mistaken identities. One deep breath, one quick thought, one clear head and perhaps there wouldn’t be quite so many in the first place.