Thursday, 18 May 2017

World Cinema: Ethel & Ernest (2016) Film Review

Fig 1. Film Poster
Ethel and Ernest is a 2016 British animated film directed by Roger Mainwood, based upon the graphic novel of the same name by Raymond Briggs. It tells the stories of the life of his parents, from when they met, to their first house, birth of Raymond, his childhood and finally into their old age and ultimately deaths.

The style featured in this animation is greatly inspired by the artwork of Raymond Briggs and his graphic novels. This very illustrative, with bright yet watercolour-like colour palette brings the characters to life, with red shades in the fingers and cheeks to show the living blood in these characters, especially compared to the backgrounds of the similar style, to contrast and differentiate which is animated and living and which is just background. This also symbolises that these are in fact living people and not just characters, but have real-life counterparts. This redness and lack of blood flowing is shown in both of the character's deaths, as they have both become still and non living, just like the background.

Fig 2. Ernest and his new job
The storytelling in this film is very emotionally involving, as it shows the characters from when they both meet and the hardships the two go through, involving the audience in their intimate lives. The storytelling also include much of British culture, such as the countries politics, a feeling of 'keeping up appearances' especially in the character of Ethel. The characters are likeable and have a very humorous moments, which have even greater impact of the darker tones in the film and how these affect their lives, such as the lack of success of trying for a baby, WWII, and the sombre ending of the two characters. This intimate storytelling causes the audience to become very emotionally involved in the film and it's characters, allowing the audience to not only listen to their story but share their experiences.

Fig 3. Ethel in the hospital.
The ending to the film of death of the two characters is quite a heart-wrenching ending to the film, but it is quite common with British animation, such as another Brigg's inspired film The Snowman, in which the snowman melts, teaching important lessons of loss and death and how this is is a part of life, and has a much more realistic portrayal of real life. The ending does become bittersweet, as Raymond and his wife both stand in the garden, looking upon the tree he planted as a child.

Overall, Ethel and Ernest is a greatly emotionally involving animated film, which creates characters full of life and likeability, and presents the ups and down of life of families, and how they cope with the bad times and enjoy the good times.

Illustration List:
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