“I decided to make a film for children and I started thinking about my childhood, my images, my fantasies, how was my childhood different – that imagery, it’s the imagery of my generation.”
Chilean filmmaker Andres Waissbluth, inspired by the comics of his childhood, set out to make the very lively comedy Elephant: The Horse, screening this weekend at the Sydney Latin American Film Festival. The Director, who is now working on another children’s film, adapted stories he had encountered in his younger years and adult life to bring together the tale of two adolescent, adventure-crazed brothers who abscond from home and end up joining a circus troupe. Pursuing a horse that swallowed their grandfather’s gold watch, they fall in with a slew of larger-than-life characters, none more menacing than Miguel Rodarte’s circus-master Infausto.
“I’m 43 and I’m from a pre-digital era where children had comics or had fun in the road and that was it,” explains Waissbluth, aiming to project a more classical sense of adventure in his latest project. “When I was a child I read a lot of comics, my favourite was ‘Asterix and Obelix,’ my father had the complete collection.”
Taking inspiration from the Asterix and Obelix series and the like for the lively tale with a not-so-shy panoply of personalities and entertainers, while the iconic friends from the only village in Gaul to hold out against the Roman legions travelled the world, Waissbluth brought the world to a little corner of Chile.
“I took everything about different places and mixed things that shows the images of my childhood,” said Waissbluth. “This possibility of putting a lot of nationalities for me in one story… you have an Egyptian woman, you have Italians, Africans, a Turkish man, a Spaniard, it was like a world circus for me, it was very fun and very colourful, it gives a touch of magic and the feeling that anything is possible.”
Telling the story both through traditional film and animation, the brothers intermix elements of their life and a beloved comic. Flipping through pages writ large on screen to make sense of their surroundings and vivid predicament, the literal cartoonish elements nicely complement some of the more fantastical images and figures right before their eyes.
“We needed a tool to introduce in the story that Roberto’s mind was an imaginative mind, you didn’t quite know what part of the story he is mixing up, what is reality, what is the story and in that way we thought about the comic,” explains Waissbluth. “It was very hard work as I had never done animation or visual or special effects, the film has about one hundred shots with visual or special effects and that process took a year and a half, I had to learn a lot.”
“In my era, in my time of animation, it was very natural to have the comics in that style and I think it works really well and people really love it.”
Elephant: The Horse is playing at the Sydney Latin American Film Festival – for tickets head to the Festival website