6.6/10
776
7 user 9 critic

Feral (2012)

A wild boy is found in the woods by a solitary hunter and brought back to civilization. Alienated by a strange new environment, the boy tries to adapt by using the same strategies that kept him safe in the forest.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Elsie McKendry ...
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Brett Tobasky ...
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Storyline

A wild boy is found in the woods by a solitary hunter and brought back to civilization. Alienated by a strange new environment, the boy tries to adapt by using the same strategies that kept him safe in the forest.

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forest | wild boy | chicken | pig | cow | See All (43) »


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Not Rated
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September 2012 (Canada)  »

Also Known As:

Дикий  »

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Edited into The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014: Animation (2014) See more »

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Mesmerising exploration of human nature
14 January 2017 | by See all my reviews

Feral is a beautifully filmed short that explores the concept of the noble savage. The animation is a glorious artistic hand-painted 2D with very subdued colors, mostly several duotones, subtle sepia hues, and with some splashes of washed-out colors towards the end. The story is well presented and narrated, and very atmospheric.

Sousa, as all the great directors of animation, don't do animation just to express their wonderful skills as visual creators, painters or designers. It is mostly about the story being told and how is being told. No surprise that this little jewel was nominated for an Oscar. It is not the animation per se, it is the whole ensemble: animation, atmosphere, music, story, narrative, and structure.

This film is Sousa's exploration of the concept of the noble savage. This has been a subject of great interest and debate since the 18th century. It is based on the idea that humans have an innate good nature and inner moral compass, which shows in primitive societies and indigenous people, but also shows in all of us when some circumstances appear. The concept survived the 19th century and entered the 20th but with the opposition of rational thinkers, anti-primitivists and anthropologists, who say that this an artificial concept that judge how people are or should be, and that civilized people can become like savage animals in certain situations.

This theme has been the subject of multiple films, mostly reflecting the romantic primitivism theory, and in a lesser degree anti-primitivism approach. Movies like Tarzan (especially Greystoke and the latest The Legend of Tarzan), The Jungle Book, Nell, The Blue Lagoon are an example of the first case, while the Lord of the Flies is of the second.

However, the first movie that came to my mind when I watched this short film was Francois Truffaut's Wild Child (based on the true story of Victor de Aveyron, a boy who was found in a French forest at the end of the 18th century in a savage state after living about 12th years without contact with other human beings and unable to speak). The movie was ambivalent enough to make viewers question who was the real savage, the wild boy of the society in which he entered. Feral connects very well with Truffaut's film, but presented in a more lyrical and tamed way. We see the feral child at ease with the wolves, we see him adjusting to civilization in certain environments and with certain people, but not with city people and society, as society in which he tries to integrate but treats him like an animal, inhumanly. Who is the savage here? Who is feral? Was the feral child impossible to tame, or the methods used totally inhumane?

We don't only see the behavior of the boy, we are provided with his feelings and spirit. That is to me, the most beautiful part of the film. To me, his spirit is what we see at the beginning and at the end, pure natural essence, and also during the film when he transforms from his white self to the essence of the wolf and of the able, who are also depicted as ghostly figures. In a way, the animal spirits of the Sioux live in the feral child, as the child seems to be a continuum between his nature and Nature.

Sousa incorporates an element that is dear to him and part of his childhood into this movie, the windmill, which is used as a sort of home or protective capsule where Sousa puts the little feral child, a comforting memory of his childhood used to encapsulates the spirit of his character and, perhaps, of his inner child.

This is a mesmerizing symbolic wonderful animated film, with a great mood and soundtrack that speaks about the connection between Nature and our nature, and what our nature is.


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