Gabriel Ponniah, Editor In Chief
Austin Alternative Screen Scene
The idea of “hyperobjects” has become prevalent in recent years—something “massively distributed in time and space, and so viscous—so sticky that it adheres to all that touch it,” according to popular science and philosophy YouTube channel Vsauce. Climate change qualifies as such an object, as well as holding the distinction of humanity’s greatest challenge in its history, as per many prominent thinkers and researchers. From Romania comes “we fly, we crawl, we swim: a short film about climate justice,” fully immersed in despair at the enormity of this most challenging hyperobject.
The film blends several unconventional techniques resulting in a unique visual language distinct from any other animated film at AniFab. The incandescent line work, the layers upon layers of varying opacity, the gentle movement of elements, each adds to the film’s hypnotic nature, carried languidly forward by despondent narration that gives form to the occasional striking image of human cruelty.
Director Aron Nor shows no lack of ambition in attempting to dismantle the notion of justice itself, challenge speciesism, and center animals in the climate change narrative. He’s successful to a point: the film sets out to ask how climate justice translates into an anti-speciesist framework, and at minimum, it does that. One wonders, however, at the efficacy of “we fly, we crawl, we swim,” as audiences new to the issue are unlikely to be moved to action by a film which so vilifies their perspective, and audiences already familiar with the messaging are liable to be lulled into a tearful slumber after 23 sorrowful minutes of runtime. It is nothing if not a downer—appropriate, perhaps, for a film whose subject is humanity’s ultimate downer, but as an essay, so-described by Nor, it lacks clarity and overcompensates with pathos. Much is lost in translation, I’m sure, and Nor and company seem to have done their research, but the end-result isn’t the rousing call to action that the film hopes—or indeed ought to be.