Scripted and Directed by Eva Cvijanović
Based on the short story by Branko Ćopić
Narrated by Kenneth Welsh
BFI London Film Festival 2017 Review by Chris Olson
It's been a big year for animation, with some impressive animated films taking to cinemas and delivering on a sliding scale of talent. It has also been a year where certain animated movies have massively disappointed critics and audiences. Recent examples include The Emoji Movie, The Boss Baby, and to some extent Despicable Me 3. What we can garner from this turn in public opinion is that animation, finally, is being viewed more critically by viewers not just on how impressive the artwork is, but also how well the films deliver on the fundamentals of storytelling. Stop motion / puppet animation short film Hedgehog's Home, from filmmaker Eva Cvijanović, is a vibrant and majestic example of stunning storytelling.
Playing at this year's BFI London Film Festival, Hedgehog's Home has the universality that is quintessential with animation. First off the plot; accessible to viewers of all ages, it is based on a short story by Branko Ćopić, whereby a hedgehog becomes the fascination of several predator animals, who cannot fathom why this spiky creature is so obsessed with his home. Most perturbed is a fox who initially tries to lure the hedgehog into a trap. Whilst tracking his prey back through the forest, he encounters a few more deadly creatures who accompany him in the stalking.
Parallel to this simplistic storyline is an aesthetic that will also appeal universally to all kinds of audiences. The use of fabric throughout the short means that a kind of childish fable quality is achieved. This is then skewed into a rather threatening atmosphere with the use of darker colours and intimidating framing. The combination becomes a rather unique viewing experience whereby the thematic weight of the story is emboldened by the puppets and landscape, without feeling like the movie has sacrificed any dramatic essence by venturing into the stop motion genre.
Touching on themes, audiences will be unlikely to miss the point of Hedgehog's Home, the clue is in the name. The experience of the central character is one enhanced by knowing that there is a place in the world he can feel safe and loved, interestingly not by anyone else. He vows to protect his home from any that would attack it and the onlookers are utterly dismayed by the passion with which Hedgehog defends his small hole. The fate of those who put less stock in a "home" becomes brutally clear, and the message is delivered to the audience without any frills.
The use of rhyming dialogue could be enough to deter viewers from the off, and the use of puppets may also be a deal breaker, however I would staunchly argue that fans of animation, stop motion, short films, great storytelling, and expertly crafted filmmaking need to experience Hedgehog's Home, as it is one of the most impressive animated films of 2017.
You can catch this film at the BFI London Film Festival 2017 during the during the Animated Shorts for Younger Audiences event on Sunday 8th of October.