Blue skies are incontrovertible signs of ecological rectitude, socio-political health and a general prelapsarian innocence; from Georgian London’s smog to the lashing acid rain of ‘Blade Runner’, bad climate has come to give testament to man’s bad ways. (We Brits must have always had it coming.) ‘How long has it been raining?’ wonders the narrator of this dystopian-tech Korean anime (dubbed and re-edited for the international market), which takes a frayed leaf from the gospel of environmental comeuppance, and another from the class-war anxieties of HG Wells’ ‘The Time Machine’. In the future – 2142, to be exact – humanity’s privileged inhabit the gilded cage of Echoban, a ‘living’ city genetically engineered to withstand the poisonous atmosphere outside it. Those turned away from its gates are marshalled as ‘Diggers’ to mine the carbon toxins that fuel the metropolis. Into this purdah comes a rebel Digger raider, Shua, intent on razing Echoban from its data core down. A disaffected scion of the city, he has romantic history with two of its officer corps, moony memories of open sky over the legendary land of Gibraltar, and a template beatnik-guerilla look and ’tude. The movie takes a, ahem, ‘classical’ approach to plot and character – its characters seem to turn in predetermined circles and things turn hyper-operatic at the end – but where it comes alive is in the vivid quality of its animation, a magpie mix of matte and 3D computer-generated backgrounds, flat cel-animated characters and miniature model-work. The lavish detail and ambient beauty is often astounding, proof perhaps that the devil has all the best views.
Friday July 8 2005
Moon-sang Kim, Jun Young Park, Sunmin Park