The Old Young Crow
Sep 29, 2023
Naoto Shibata, Keiko Yamashita, Hassan Shahbazi
Told using a mesmerising combination of live action and animation, the story of The Old Young Crow is delivered beautifully by filmmaker Liam Lopinto in this delightful short film.
Naoto Shibata plays Mehrdad, a young boy who spends his time in a graveyard on the boundary of his school. Through the narration of Old Mehrdad (Hassan Shahbazi) we learn that his younger self moved to Tokyo from Iran when he was young and experienced a heavy culture shock. He ends up befriending an old Japanese woman (Keiko Yamashita) and learns about her life and loss. Their friendship blossoms. Meanwhile, there is a crow who also visits the graveyard who appears to be old but flies like he’s young, sitting atop an important headstone.
Creative and whimsical but with a dark undertone, The Old Young Crow benefits from establishing an erratic structure right away. We feel Mehrdad’s anxiety about being a stranger in a foreign land palpably through the vibrant drawings which come to life in the notebook at the centre of the screen. Nothing is certain in this short film and the metaphors being nimbly hinted at could have felt preachy in another filmmaker’s hands but LoPinto deftly arranges them amongst the rapid visuals and curious nature of the plot.
As with any thought-provoking piece like this, audiences are likely to take different things away depending on what emotional baggage they bring with them to a screening but inescapable themes of grief, parenthood, and aging were what came across for this film critic. The film carries these in such a way, however, that you never feel encumbered by them, rather enriched. The playful interactions onscreen, such as a foot coming underneath a block of text, or a murder of crows with electric blue outlines staring at you are riveting, it’s a film so visually engaging viewers will be hard pressed not to get involved.
The duality of young and old existing within one story has been heartfeltly rendered here by the filmmakers and rarely has it felt so joyfully imaginative. Tinged with sadness, yes, but it’s a film to get you feeling a myriad of emotions and to try and see them simultaneously through a child’s eyes, and those of your future self.