How is life in China after a life-wrecking tsunami? This is the question posed by Tsunami, a fantastic animated short by the Danish director Sofie Kampmark about an elderly man named Haru who lives in denial after a tsunami. He discovers a sea spirit, who makes him face reality and deal with his loss, but that is not how I experienced it and interpreted the story. Although I do agree that this 7-minute short that got selected for this year’s La Séléction Cinéfondation at the Cannes Film Festival is more about the message it conveys than about the Visuals.
This is how the story goes: life goes on after a big wave trashed Haru’s little Chinese cottage, and he tries to leave the dramatic event behind him by picking back up the banalities of life, although the traces are still visible from the crabs and fishes lingering around. But all of a sudden he finds a gigantic fish in his bathtub risking death by dehydration. Kampmark wonderfully uses colour in order to show whether the fish is still alive; he almost seems to lighten up every time he touches the water. This contrasts with the rest of the animation, where colours remain rather dark and less vivid. After a dream sequence, that in my opinion was not really relevant for any narrative progress, Haru personally takes care of bringing the poor fish back to the ocean.
The moral of the story lies in the fact that he chooses to save the life of the fish above getting his own life back on track, and then how this heroic deed affects his future. I question, though, whether Kampmark aimed for such kind of responses and interpretations from her audience. Also, I really wonder where she got the idea from to make an animation film about a tsunami in China, although she herself lives in Denmark. One might want to know whether there is any personal motivation involved.
Tsunami is a visually beautiful film, but the way its content makes you think more deeply about current global phenomena might distract you from its technical side.