When we die, we leave behind friends and loved ones that have to live through the pain of losing someone close to them. This an experience that Dutch filmmaker Michiel Wesselius chose to explore in his animated short, Jorka. The film explores the experience of mourners during the early stages of grieving and the logistical discourse that comes with planning a funeral wake.
The eight-minute stop-motion animation follows a ghost as he visits and observes the people closest to him shortly after he’s been killed. We arrive at each new character through a series of phone calls that link them together. Throughout the film no one speaks to each other directly face-to-face, every conversation is had over the phone. Maybe Wesselius is calling attention to the impact our smartphones have on the ways in which we connect with one another?
The film examines how each type of relationship a person has—between a mother and a son, two brothers, a friend, and a girlfriend—deals with death in its own way. The activity in the film is by no means extravagant; characters are shown doing banal activities like washing dishes, writing a letter, or playing outside. Yet, these little moments so vividly capture the human response to death.
The stiff yet lucid animation is set in a jagged and sharp world. Reminiscent of German Expressionist cinema, our protagonist walks through an off-center and slanted environment with a Nightmare Before Christmas kind of flair. It is cold. An environment filled in with blues, grays, blacks, and whites, setting a dark backdrop and melancholy tone for the story.
Watch Jorka below:
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