Short Review: The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello

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I'm not generally one for video shorts, though I have seen thousands (particularly computer animated shorts). I also have a fairly limited field of likes when it comes to film, with most of the movies I enjoy coming from before the 60's. That being said, I read about this animated short on various websites, and decided to give it a try.

The Animation
The first thing that actually drew my attention was the animation. I'm pretty sure it is computer animation because of the precision, but it looks like shadow puppetry. That in and of it self is really cool! Shadow puppetry hasn't been seen in mainstream US markets (as far as I know) for years. It's neat to see someone take such an artistic turn in their animation. I'm really impressed.

The Setting
The setting is in a very steampunk world. Airships, coat tails, mad scientists that would rather kill others than think logically on how to get a monster back to a city. Yes, it just screams steampunk, and as such captured my attention. The machines used for locomotion are heavily geared, and there appears to be no natural ground. All land is floating in the air (rather cool, I'd say), and makes one wonder what kind of physics governs the world.

The Story
Something I have learned from watching years of animated shorts is that the animation can be excellent, but if the story is lacking the experience suffers. Apparently the creators of this little gem understood that, and wrote a complex story that is grounded in a history as to yet explained, giving the experience a richness that is usually lacking in other animated shorts. The story could have fallen directly from Jules Verne. It's rich, has just enough reference to technology to make geeks drool, and has such an intense ending that you are left wanting more.

A quick synopsis: A young navigator, haunted by a fatal mistake in his past, has been reassigned to his old ship. The crew are on a routine mission to a new trade route when they came across a derelict vessel, with all the crew dead, and yet still in complete working order. They follow their old heading at the behest of their one passenger, a biologist, and discover an uncharted island. The adventures start there, with excitement, horror, and a discovery of just what man can do when determination overrides reason.

If you have not seen this short, which has won many awards and was nominated for an Oscar in 2006, I would highly recommend that you do. If you can't find the DVD to purchase, you can find it on iTunes for $1.99 (plus tax). It's 26:05 minutes long, and every minute is gripping. I highly recommend it.