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OFF Review: Animation shorts – “To the Moon,” “Topi”

January 31, 2010

By Melody Watson

The animation block is always one of the most popular categories at the film festival and this year will likely prove to be no different. Here is a review of  a couple of the films. The block plays Friday, Feb. 5 at 10 a.m. and Saturday, Feb. 6 at 4:30 p.m. For more info on other animation, visit the Oxford Film Fest web site.

To the Moon

The story of a little man and his quest to claim the moon for England.  His friends mock his dreams, he perseveres and flies a hot air balloon to the moon.  Once there, wackiness ensues and he and the moon duel it out.

The look of “To the Moon” is an interesting mix of  George Méliès’s ” A Trip to the Moon,” the illustrations out of H.G. Wells and Jewels Verne’s best works, and Looney Tunes.  While I thought that the animation was clean and well done, I was annoyed with the story.  It starts with a thoughtful message of  anti-imperialism but devolves into “YAY England!”   Much like a Roadrunner cartoon, the plot and the characters defy logic.  Its message is muddled and it seems like the director’s prime motivation for making this is to wag a finger at America for putting a flag on the moon…I guess? With all the work that went into it, I really wanted to like it more.


Topi captures a moment of understanding between a young hindu boy and an older Islāmic man during the 1947 partition of India. It highlights the violence and religious conflict of the time, but focuses on the idea that “no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Unlike “To the Moon,” Topi has a great message but poor animation.  I think that the director, Arjun Rihan, does as best he can with whatever software he’s using, but the result is lacking.  I couldn’t help but be reminded of computer animation in the time before PIXAR.  While the only emotions needed here are sad, angry, and thoughtful; the CG people are severely limited in range by what must be the director’s use of out-dated equipment.  Luckily, the short has an uplifting story to help you forget that it looks so bad.

I hope that those watching don’t write it off, we’re all kinda spoiled when it comes to computer animation, and any story that reminds us that our differences can be overcome with a little respect and compassion is worth paying attention to.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2010 5:02 am


  2. Russell Fox permalink
    February 8, 2010 1:43 pm

    “…Topi has a great message but poor animation.”

    “…the director does as best he can with whatever software he’s using, but the result is lacking.”

    Are you kidding?

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