Jojo in the Stars (2003)

A dark and expressive animation from director and animator Marc Craste, Jojo in the Stars explores love in the face of loathsome evil. In a somber world populated by strange and robotic creatures, winged girl Jojo finds herself an admirer who takes it upon himself to free her from the freak show that she is a part of. In this black and white universe, horrors abound, and sadness looms around every corner. The lovers are met with many obstacles in their quest for happiness, and in the end it finally comes, but at a high price.

With brilliant character design, the bright eyes of the audience light up luminously against the darkness. Jojo’s wings are gorgeous and incandescent, and the other residents of Madame Pica’s “circus” are reminiscent of Lock, Shock and Barrel from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. The music is also amazing, and lends the film a lot of its emotional power. Harlem in Brünn works fantastically when set to Jojo’s routine.

Reading about this film, which won a BAFTA for Best Animated Short Film, I discovered that it was inspired by both the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song “The Carny”, and the film Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders (in which the song appears). I have the film on DVD, and I have to say that Jojo did remind me of Marion the trapeze artist. Both women are beautiful but alone, and are admired and protected by a guardian of sorts. And the wounds that our unnamed hero suffers after his fall are similar to when Damiel sheds his immortality and bleeds for the first time after becoming human. It’s lovely to see such amazing animation inspired by a range of material.

An absorbing if slightly depressing tale, Marc Craste succeeds in capturing the angelic melancholy of keeping beauty behind bars.



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