Review: Hello World! – Bonjour le monde (2019)

Hello World! – Bonjour le monde (2019)

Directed by: Anne-Lise Koehler, Eric Serre | 67 minutes | animation, family | Dutch voice cast: Kristel Verbeke, Chris Schep, Helle van der Heyden, Daphne Wellens, Ini Massez, Sasha Rosen, Maarten Bosmans, Laurenz Hoolerbeke, Lotte Declerck, Remi Desmet, Brent Pannier

In a landscape where water and forest meet and these two landscape types form the lifeblood of a fascinating and complex ecosystem, diverse animal species are born that grow, hunt, avoid other predators and eventually find their place in their new world. The still-tiny pike wants to grow colossal and become the most imposing predator in the water, while the young fire salamander is eager to crawl onto land after outgrowing the larval stage.

In total, ‘Hello world!’ about ten animal species: the pike, fire salamander, kingfisher, imperial dragonfly, beaver, bittern, grebe, European terrapin, long-eared owl and wood bat. In addition to those protagonists, a rich support cast of other animals passes by. The special thing about ‘Hello world!’ is the way in which the film introduces us to a beautiful piece of European nature. This time no images of real wild animals or traditional animations; filmmakers Anne-Lise Koehler and Eric Serre use a hybrid approach that combines photography, sculpture and drawing. More than 110 dolls and hundreds of sculptures show 76 animal species, 43 plant species and 4 mushroom species. Accurate work that turns every animal, branch, leaf and blade of grass into an artistic creation.

The materials used, especially paper and fabrics, become visible in their substance, which creates a nice and special effect. In combination with the animation technique called stop-motion, this creates an interesting spectacle. Each shot is animated frame by frame, with the doll facing the camera. You can clearly see that this is a project that has been worked on with a lot of love and attention to detail.

In terms of tone, the film is mainly aimed at younger viewers and shows in a frisky, imaginative way how the food chain works below and above water. In addition, ‘Hello world!’ also an attempt to interpret the life of wild animals, which most of us only get a cursory and fragmented view of, by making it clear that each species has its own peculiarities and must overcome unique challenges on the way to adulthood.

Sometimes the makers generously sprinkle with quasi-philosophical tile wisdom that pushes ‘Hello world’ a bit towards the esoteric domain, but that rarely becomes disturbing. The same goes for the dash of anthropomorphism. The animals may talk, but there is still enough space for the individuality of and scientifically substantiated species information about each animal. Moreover, it is continuously clear that all these living things are part of the infinite cycle of eating and being eaten that is inherent to life on earth. ‘Hello World!’ is therefore a playful and visually very original exploration of various special animals and plants with which we share our living environment, but which we unfortunately too often neglect.

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