Monday, December 31, 2007


Renaissance (2006) is an animated French film set in Paris in 2054.  A mega-corporation called Avalon, which specializes in prolonging life and youth, dominates the world.  A detective named Barthélémy Karas (voiced by Daniel Craig) is assigned to investigate the kidnapping of a brilliant young research scientist, Ilona Tasuiev, whose research concerns the disease progeria, which causes rapid and unnatural aging in children.  In the process of his investigation he uncovers a vast corporate conspiracy focused on a discovery made by one of the corporation scientists.  Some want to suppress the discovery while others want to release it to the world.  There are numerous turns of plots, unexpected surprises, and dark revelations.  People who seem to be good turn out not to be, and villains turn out to be something else.

The film turns on the notion that death gives life meaning.  I kept looking for Keats allusions but didn't find them.

Renaissance is an intelligent and well made animated film.  It is filmed in the style of Sin City, using motion capture photography. The animation consists almost entirely of high contrast black and white images.  The effect is something like a comic book.  This kind of animation would soon become tedious, monotonous, were it used in film after film, but in this one it works well enough.  Much of Renaissance takes place at night, when it is frequently raining or snowing.  This film could easily have been made as a live-action production.

The film reminded me in moments of Blade Runner and in others of films such as The Maltese Falcon or The Big Sleep because of the sudden turns of plot and revelations.  I was even reminded of Wuthering Heights

Renaissance is basically an animated film noir.  It takes a dim view of science, scientific research, and the notion of progress.  It suggests that technology imprisons humankind rather than offering new freedoms.  In this sense it has numerous connections to such films about genetic engineering and advanced technology as Gattaca and Minority Report. I'm surprised this film isn't better known.

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