Gints Zilbalodis’ masterpiece journey AWAY captures everything that word suggests. A simple story of a young boy who finds himself on a strange island after a plane crash, the animated film from Latvia fills every second of it 75 minute running time with beautiful visual mysteries. Splashing a color palette of luxurious greens and blues to capture a place that lives only in our imagination, Away follows the boy from one side of the island to the other in hopes of finding civilization, all the while pursued by a dark shadow of a colossal man who seems to represent death itself. If I had to compare away to anything, it’s like being dropped into the world of MYST with a danger element pressing you forward. On his journey, the boy befriends a number of creatures who seem to be the only residents of this abandoned island: turtles, cats, and an adorable yellow bird who has not yet learned to fly who becomes his trusted companion as they struggle to stay one step ahead of The Shadow. I cannot say enough about this film which, despite not having a single word of dialogue, kept my eyes glued to the screen. Despite its simplicity, or maybe because of it, the director never runs out of ways to increase the tension as the boy gets closer and closer to his goal. And the emotional bond between the boy and the bird is truly beautiful. This is the kind of film that might pop up as that mysterious fifth choice on the Oscars Best Animated Film that you’re like ‘what the hell film is that, I’ve never heard of it.’ If you can, find a way to see this film on the big screen and dive into the world of away. And I’m just going to add another still from the film below, because I want to and its so fricking beautiful.
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