Monday, 17 November 2014

Poppies (2014)

It's hard enough for an adult today to come to terms with the tragic loss of life during The Great War, a conflict that saw a staggering, virtually unimaginable 16 million dead and 20 million wounded approximately. 

So how do you convey that to a child?

Poppies is a beautiful, atmospheric and ethereal two minute animated short specially commissioned by CBeebies to commemorate the centenary of WW1. Broadcast on Sunday 9th and Tuesday 11th this year it actively sought to include the channel's target audience of children and families with the act of remembrance and the marking of the two minute silence. 

The film depicts the war as experienced by animals - a rabbit, a snail and a bird - found upon a WW1 battlefield. It opens with the rabbit frolicking in the sunshine chasing a butterfly, before witnessing birds flying south and the sky slowly darkening as man's war begins to encroach upon the field. The conflict is superbly implied by tonal changes, not just in the colours on screen but also in Oscar Winner Steven Price's (Gravity) wonderful score. The emotion is immediately felt and suitably conveys a transition from peace to war as we witness the animals take shelter under a discarded helmet as the bombs and bullets reign down. 

The short closes with one more tonal change to provide its audience with an ending which is at once both poignant and hopeful.

A superb enterprise for which all involved should be applauded, Poppies conveys its difficult message in a simple, emotive and thought provoking manner that actually manages to skirt the failings that some programmes of remembrance for more mature audiences all too easily fall in to. An instant classic, it should be broadcast each year much like that other animated great, The Snowman. It's available to view until, but only until tomorrow, on the BBC iPlayer; here

I've watched it about three times already now.

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