TRIBECA 2021: ‘Namoo’ Is an Emotional Animated Short From Erick Oh

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Namoo

For Opera, Korean filmmaker Erick Oh should have won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film at the last Academy Awards. But that phenomenal job was just the coming-out party of a talented animator who has the tools to go very far. In fact, not even half a year has passed and we already have another tremendous sample of his artistic abilities: Namoo, a film that just premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.

The short film takes us on a journey through the life of a person, from his birth to his death. The prominent element is a tree of life, whose branches are populated by the objects and memories that marked each of its stages (Namoo [나무] is the Korean word for tree).

Among the joys of growing up and love affairs, the narrative prominently addresses the theme of artistic failure and, with enormous emotion, represents an existential crisis; a moment of loneliness and hopelessness fueled by loss. What remains is a wound impossible to cover.

The color of childhood, the tenderness of falling in love, the heartbreak of frustration, and the sadness of settling in indifference, are some of the facets that Oh captures with great sensitivity. They are simple ideas, but universal. In a matter of minutes, Erick Oh manages to strike a chord and might force you to shed a few tears. The film is a very personal work, inspired by the death of his own grandfather.

Everything you see in the film is completely hand-painted. The end product is amazing. The animations are detailed and fluid, the settings are charming, and the color management is vibrant and dynamic. The exquisite animation complements the emotional story.

In addition to the traditional format, Namoo is also available in Virtual Reality. I didn’t have the chance to experience that option but had I done so, the tears would probably have flowed, as plunging into a world created by Erick Oh sounds incredible.

On a narrative level, Namoo is not half as ambitious as Opera, but on an emotional level, it achieves all of its goals. It is an endearing short film that celebrates the good and bad moments in life; success, failure, love, and hope, but above all, the need we have of following our passion, that thing that fills us and gives us an identity.

Namoo was created by Baobab Studios and is now streaming at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.

Namoo
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

On a narrative level, Namoo is not half as ambitious as Opera, but on an emotional level, it achieves all of its goals. It is an endearing short film that celebrates the good and bad moments in life; success, failure, love, and hope, but above all, the need we have of following our passion, that thing that fills us and gives us an identity.