There’s something visually perfect about recreating the court of Louis XIV as chickens. Maybe it’s their fine plumage. Or the way they strut. Or even the fact that they have built-in domino masks.
But whatever the reason, Siggraph grand prize-winning animation A la Française, which has just been released in full online, is one of the most charming CG shorts you’ll see this year.
A whole movie’s worth of characters in a six-minute short
In plot terms, very little happens: the court goes about its business one summer afternoon in Versailles. Instead, A la Française is that rarest of things in animation: an ensemble piece.
In just over six minutes, the short builds up a score of memorable characters, from the Sun King and his courtiers to the harassed gardener trimming the topiary – all entirely without words.
There are some lovely running jokes, notably the oversexed little cockerel whose game of blind man’s buff threatens to cause a diplomatic incident, and a whole host of sight gags.
Plus, they’re all chickens. In comedy terms, the fact that the assembled lords and ladies occasionally break protocol to take dust baths or peck at worms is the gift that keeps on giving.
Bound for greatness
Created by Supinfocom students Julien Hazebroucq, Emmanuelle Leleu, Morrigane Boyer, William Lorton and Ren Hsien Hsu, the film scooped Best In Show at Siggraph 2013, and won a string of other awards.
Since the short was released, Hazebroucq and Leleu have signed as directors with top French production house Chez Eddy, while Boyer is working on Despicable Me spin-off Minions.
That movie is being headed up by another great former director of shorts, Pierre Coffin. If the A la Française crew follow a similar career trajectory, we look forward to seeing their work in cinemas in ten years’ time.