If you have a spare fifteen minutes you could do a lot worse than watching this breathtaking animated short. Created by French collective H5, it has already won a tranche of awards, including the award for best short film at Cannes.
It is a short tableau of life in a logo filled world. While this sounds exactly like the world we live in, what differentiates our world from the movie’s is that rather than logos adorning everything, logos ARE everything. So the butterflies are the Microsoft butterflies, the birds are the badges of Bentley and Aston Martin, the windy roads are made up of the Sony VAIO logo and the countryside is the Burberry tartan. Almost without exception every single component is made of a mark or symbol of some sort. My favourite has to be in the zoo where the animals are made up of, among others: The MGM lion, the Linux penguin, the Ecko rhino, the Lacoste crocodile, Playboy bunnies, the Republican elephant, and of course, Hungry Hippos.
But the short is so much more than a spot-the-logotype game. The world is peopled by the characters that are used to sell us products every day, so the Michelin man makes up the police force and the Pringles man is a misogynist sex pest, which seems about right. The story itself is compelling, and the cinematography is superb. It owes much to the Hollywood action genre, and there is a hint of Heath Ledger’s Batman in the maniacal Ronald McDonald. There is a certain satisfaction in seeing these characters meet nasty ends, so Fido Dido gets a kicking twice, both M&Ms get run over and even Colonel Sanders gets crushed. Check out the way Ronald McDonald gets stopped in his tracks, it is particularly telling.
The movie is an indictment of the logotype-heavy world that we live in and it is pertinent to note that the only extended piece of dialogue in the piece considers the plight of the animals in the zoo, unable to express their nature because they are caged by the zoo, in the same way that we are caged by the commerce that engulfs us. But I also think that the filmmakers make the point that this is the world we live in and, for better and for worse, we need to deal with it. Certain symbols like the Bluetooth one, the USB one, the recycling one – these aren’t images of corporate evil, they are the marks that make up our world, and they facilitate our lives in one way or another. And there are symbols everywhere that one feels the animators probably respect – Shepard Fairey’s Obey image, Abelton’s Go Live logo, the typography of Pink Floyd and the Sex Pistols.
It’s a bright and a multilayered world that H5 has built and it gives us designers much to think about. While we happily create logos to entice and seduce we are adding to the overwhelming sea of signage that exists in our world, having seen the movie, it is hard to walk around a town or city without feeling we are living it and making it right now.
What did you make of the movie? Did you spot any brilliant uses of corporate logos? Let me know below.