Animated gem tells a complex story with simple figures
Window Horses is an animated collection of poetic journeys. Created by Ann Marie Fleming and based on her popular ‘stick girl’ character, Horses focuses on a young person travelling afar, an artist’s exploration of their work, and furthermost, the unending search for self and purpose.
Lead character Rosie Ming is a mixed-race Canadian poet who is invited to a poetry festival in Iran, even though she isn’t seasoned in the craft. Putting her nerves aside, Ming talks her grandparents into letting her attend, and the story begins.
While in Iran, she is introduced to culture, history, and poets both alive and dead that she had never heard of. This strong series of discoveries seems to be enough to base a film on, but Window Horses goes further. We learn that Ming lost her parents at an early age, explaining why she lived with her grandparents.
How, why, and what comes later is the true glory of this tale. With a poetic deftness and strength of an ensemble cast, (Sandra Oh voices Ming, Camyar Chaichian as Cyrus, Shohreh Aghdashloo as Mehrnaz, Don McKellar as Dietmar, and a quick cameo by Ellen Page as Ming’s best friend Kelly) Horses continually grows in depth of feeling.
The simplicity of the animation is a whimsical choice of style. In moments of expression and metaphor, the art becomes far more complex, like the ideas of the content itself. Beautiful hues of brown and sepia tone accentuate the time and space in which this work lives.
While the main character Ming is, well, a stick figure, this is not for simplicity’s sake. In fact, it is as if the writer uses this as way of contrast. While her visage is simple, her intricacies within the story are undoubted. For instance, the quote, “Long poem bad, short poem good.” Ming is a drawn as a short poem, which helps elaborate the vast context beyond her looks.
Like a poem, Window Horses evolves into a story of love. Love for art, love of family, and ultimately (hopefully) love of self.
Window Horses (2016)
Directed by Ann Marie Fleming
Sat., May 20 – Tue., May 23
Metro Cinema, $12, $10 matinee