Lucas Durkheim’s Grounded tells the story of a nameless soldier being thrust into a situation he has no context for. The basis of all his knowledge comes from propagandist war murals and he exists in isolation until his purpose arises. This short film is as elegant as it is brutal in its message.

Grounded takes an assured look at the universal soldier and speaks for soldiers from every corner of the world and every crevice of history. For silent film the writing and direction must be precise to clearly communicate the message to the audience, and Grounded offers huge ideas with grace and laser precision.

The macabre subject matter is juxtaposed with beautiful animation; stylistically, it brings to mind Chomet’s The Illusionist. Each frame has clearly been constructed with extensive artistry; it is the type of film which one could pause at any moment and hang that frame on the wall. The large sweeping landscapes are an absolute pleasure to look at and are complimented by an exquisite score that lends to the moments of wonder and tragedy — ambient and meditative, the music carries the viewer gently through the film.

Gorgeous as the film can be we are given a sobering and challenging message to dwell on as we find the nameless soldier cowering before a factory-like building. While designed as a killing machine he retains remanences of humanity, passing his time reading and tending to his cacti. In the end, despite the sinister intentions for the solider, when the time comes to fight he fails, firing blindly. The striking field of blue and red flowers forces us to consider the life that is lost to the perpetual war machine, aimlessly and continuously. Grounded is an incredibly powerful film, a vitally thoughtful one, and a startlingly beautiful one too.

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INFORMATION

DIRECTOR: Lucas Durkheim

WRITER: Lucas Durkheim

SYNOPSIS: A nameless soldier steps into a war zone to discover what fate has in store for him.