Dystopias are a hot property right now; thankfully the genre deals in possibility (albeit the terrifying ones) and thus is hard to exhaust. In Futur Sauvage, the future is stark. Knowing that one man – artist and director Jonathan Djob Nkondo – was largely responsible for this troubling vision makes Futur Sauvage even more intriguing. Nkondo is certainly an animator to watch, boasting a unique style and well-rounded achievements.
The world Nkondo has built is bold and blocky. Geometric beasts roam the orange plains, eyeless red birds observe comings and goings, and a large neon green ‘god’ rises from the earth. This design is heightened by the sparse use of sound and the long pauses on an empty screen before the next (often very sudden) action appears.
This world and its people are on the brink of change, and no one – especially not the audience – can guess what course it will take. The conflict begins when a spear-carrying hunting tribe reveals one gun-toting member, transforming the characters’ relationships and audience’s understanding of the events’ time and place, which unfold like a psychedelic nightmare.
There are only two characters sketched out – thinly drawn in both characterisation and physical detail but nonetheless compellingly pitted against each other. One appears to be the tribe leader: aged, beaded, authoritative, and wary of his young counterpart’s gun – possibly because the noisy recklessness with which it is wielded, scaring prey and people alike.
The other’s bald head evokes both young child and mindless ‘alt-right’ skinhead; both associations heighten his aura of volatility and danger. Their clash may be subtle, but its tension is unnerving. Futur Sauvage may be simple, but its unsettling power is largely driven by this uncomplicated obtuseness. Its tense storytelling does not need a complicated plot, detailed figures, or even dialogue to convey a timeless anyplace where survival, mythology, and human rivalries reign supreme.
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DIRECTOR: Jonathan Djob Nkondo
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Jonathan Djob Nkondo
ANIMATION: Jonathan Djob Nkondo
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jonathan Djob Nkondo
SOUND DESIGN: Box of Toys Audio
EDITOR: Jonathan Djob Nkondo
SYNOPSIS: A power struggle plays out in a time of prehistoric lifestyles, industrial weapons, and technological deities.