The Bigger Picture, a National Film and Television School production, reached far more than the course markers – it won the 2014 Annecy Cristal for a Graduation Film, the 2015 Cartoon d’Or, the 2015 BAFTA for Best British Short Animation, and the 2016 D&AD Next Director Award, as well as garnering a nomination at the 2015 Academy Awards. Moving between imagination and reality, the story of two brothers coming to terms with their mother’s approaching death is rendered honestly and sensitively.
The Bigger Picture is comprised of vignettes from the last days of Nick and Richard’s mother, primarily shown through Nick’s eyes. Nick is his mother’s carer; pragmatic, devoted, and yet resentful of the lack of appreciation shown him. Scenes often poignantly transition through his dreams, springing from the current situation, of water washing his life away. Richard – a successful and admired businessman – has a more cavalier attitude to the world (“I thought about sex every moment of the day until I was 40; now all I think about is death” – uttered in both a flippant and fearful manner) in stark contrast to his brother. By the film’s end, each undergoes a convincing emotional journey and deepening of their relationship – quite a feat in a mere seven minutes.
Director, writer, and animator Daisy Jacobs’ vision comes to life in a stop motion animation style evocative of oil painting. 2D and 3D elements are combined, with people usually in the former category and objects in the latter, highlighting the characters’ transitory lives. This choice lends a fragility to the characters, magnifying the brothers’ growing realisations of mortality. The minimal dialogue is delivered in a matter-of-fact manner, allowing highly crafted images and slight movements to speak for themselves. These cinematic choices make the flat figures rich and realistic to the audience.
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CAST: Alistair Simpson, Christopher Nightingale, Anne Cunningham, Jan Moran Neil, Marco Radice
DIRECTOR: Daisy Jacobs
WRITERS: Daisy Jacobs, Jennifer Majka
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Max Williams
ANIMATION: Chris Wilder
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Elo Soode
SOUNDTRACK: Huw Bunford
EDITOR: Vera Simmonds
SYNOPSIS: The story of two brothers struggling with the care of their elderly mother.