Director: Cinzia Angelini
Date Created: 2021-06-30 00:00
Mila, a stunningly animated short film, is a vision of resilience and tenacity behind the screen as well as on it. With 350 artists from all over the world collaborating to bring this film to life, Mila holds a great sense of universality. However, with so many minds uniting to create a singular masterpiece, I fear that a sense of focus and closure was lost by the end of the film.
Mila is a 19-minute long film about a little girl in Italy during the chaos of World War II. The film highlights her innocence and resilience among the violence and destruction of war.
The Story Within the Story
This film prides itself in its behind-the-scenes creation. Mila was a global effort. 350 artists from 35 countries volunteered their time and efforts to bring this universally relevant film to life.
Mila took about 10 years to complete, showing the amount of dedication and perseverance put into this film. It highlights women in the animation industry with 30% of the crew consisting of women. The director and writer of the film is a woman, Cinzia Angelini, whose animation expertise has been in some of my favorite films like Prince of Egypt, Spider-Man 2, and Meet the Robinsons (WOW).
Additionally, the film was created in a virtual studio set-up even before the covid pandemic, utilizing the power of virtual rooms before it was the only way of life.
The global connection of this film is very prevalent in the actual story itself. There is no dialogue in the film meaning that language barriers are nonexistent. Universal languages such as music and facial expressions were effectively used to tell such a layered story.
The timing of the release of the film was very appropriate. With the worldwide pandemic still wreaking havoc on the globe, people need a message of resilience more than ever.
We need to be encouraged to overcome unforeseeable obstacles and to move forward with hope for a better tomorrow.
The “story behind the story” of the film Mila, is a really beautiful and encouraging one.
Despite the amazing backstory of the film, the story itself failed to be as compelling as the behind-the-scenes.
Let me tell you why.
The Story Itself
The beginning of Mila is absolutely captivating. The colors are bathed in sunlight. The animation is so fluid, soft, and heavenly until suddenly, the scenery is rudely interrupted by war.
You see the young Mila struggle to hold on to her innocence as terror ensues around her.
Mila has been through a very traumatic experience.
However, through the next 10 minutes of the film, Mila supposedly overcomes this trauma in such an unrealistically short amount of time making the ending of this film feel too abrupt.
Less than 24 hours after the traumatic experience of war, Mila has already moved on to a new life.
The ease of Mila transitioning from a world of chaos to hope pulled me out of the magic of the film and created a disconnect. The journey from trauma to healing is often a long, convoluted road that Mila didn’t seem to venture on at all.
I understand that she was young and oblivious to the reality of what was happening around her, but any child is going to at least have a prolonged sense of unease and terror after this loud, destructive incident.
In this case, having such a large team of people all contributing to one project may have potentially been a downfall in terms of storytelling. That’s 350 different perspectives on what this movie should be that had to be consolidated into one big idea.
The beginning of the film was so well planned out and executed while the second half felt rushed and unfocused. It didn’t sufficiently communicate all of the big themes that were introduced.
There were so many strong metaphors and themes within this movie that I was hoping would be further fleshed out.
One is Mila’s desperate attempt to hold on to her childlike innocence despite the forceful immersion into a violent, terrifying world.
Another theme is trust.
Another is grief.
Another is resilience.
Among these four main themes that I gauged within this film, holding on to innocence was the only one that was well fleshed out. I really enjoyed the metaphorical objects that the film used to symbolize carefree innocence.
However, trust, grief, and resilience were themes that felt entirely too rushed. I understand with a short film that you don’t have all the time in the world to flesh out several themes but perhaps creating a montage of the journey to trusting someone, grieving a loss, and being resilient could be used to show that those things aren’t accomplished in one day.
The end of the movie is so much more important than the beginning. Even if the beginning of the movie is slow and messy, as long as the end of the movie makes sense and ties it all together, leaving viewers with a sense of satisfaction, then it’s all good.
For Mila, her almost instantaneous adjustment to this life after trauma was too sudden to make the story believable. It took away from all the momentum that was built up at the beginning of the story.
It was very evident that a lot of thought, time, effort, and love went into the film, Mila. It was a collaborative effort that moved fluidly. The animation was absolutely gorgeous and the ability for music and facial expressions to be so clearly communicated that language wasn’t even needed was outstanding.
My biggest critique of the film is the lack of closure at the end.
I found myself disappointed with how the story concluded and found it unrealistic how Mila moved forward after the trauma of an ongoing war. The impending doom of war felt like a distant dream by the end of the movie.
Just exploring those major themes of trust, grief, and resilience a little deeper would have made all the difference. Also, maybe giving a little bit more closure about how Mila escapes the fear of ongoing war.
Apart from missing that major element of a solid conclusion, Mila was an absolute treat for the eyes and an inspiring project.
Check out their website for more information on where to screen Mila.
What are your thoughts on Mila? Let me know in the comments below!
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Peace, love, and lots of popcorn,