The Inksect: Award Winning Animation Envisions a Dystopian Future Without Books, Paying Homage to Kafka & Poe

“Where would we be with­out books?” That ques­tion, sung over and over again by Sparks in the theme song of the long-run­ning pub­lic-radio show Book­worm, gets a trou­bling answer in The Ink­sect, the ani­mat­ed film above by Mex­i­can Film­mak­er Pablo Calvil­lo. In the book­less dystopia it envi­sions, fos­sil fuels have run out — one premise it shares with many mod­ern works of its sub­genre — but the pow­ers that be found a way to delay the inevitable by burn­ing all of human­i­ty’s print­ed mat­ter for ener­gy instead. “Soon after,” announce the open­ing titles, “we, the human race, devolved into illit­er­ate cock­roach­es.”

But among those cock­roach­es, a few still remem­bered books, and not only did they remem­ber them, they “knew that their pow­ers could lib­er­ate our minds and help us evolve into human beings once again.”

Tak­ing place in a grim, gray, tech­no­log­i­cal­ly malev­o­lent, and elab­o­rate­ly ren­dered New York City, the sto­ry fol­lows the jour­ney of one such rel­a­tive­ly enlight­ened man-bug’s quest for not just a return to his pri­or form but to the rich­er, brighter world con­tained in and made pos­si­ble by books. He catch­es a glimpse of Edgar Allan Poe with the raven of his most famous poem perched atop his head, a sight that might look absurd to us but inspires the pro­tag­o­nist to put pen to paper and write a sin­gle word: lib­er­ty.

The Ink­sect’s lit­er­ary ref­er­ences don’t end with The Raven. Nor do they begin with it: you’ll no doubt have already made the con­nec­tions between the film’s notions of a book-burn­ing dystopia or men turn­ing into cock­roach­es and their prob­a­ble inspi­ra­tions. Even apart from the many visu­al­ly strik­ing qual­i­ties on its sur­face, Calvil­lo’s film illus­trates just how deeply works of lit­er­a­ture, from Ray Brad­bury and Franz Kaf­ka and many oth­er minds besides, lie buried in the foun­da­tion of our col­lec­tive cul­ture. Even a film so expres­sive of 21st-cen­tu­ry anx­i­eties has to under­stand and incor­po­rate the con­cerns that human­i­ty has always dealt with — and so often dealt with, in many dif­fer­ent areas and many dif­fer­ent ways, through books.

The Ink­sect, named the best exper­i­men­tal film at the Cannes Short Film Fes­ti­val in 2016, will be added to our list of Ani­ma­tions, a sub­set of our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

via The Laugh­ing Squid

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How to Rec­og­nize a Dystopia: Watch an Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to Dystopi­an Fic­tion

Hear Clas­sic Read­ings of Poe’s “The Raven” by Vin­cent Price, James Earl Jones, Christo­pher Walken, Neil Gaiman, Stan Lee & More

Franz Kaf­ka Says the Insect in The Meta­mor­pho­sis Should Nev­er Be Drawn; Vladimir Nabokov Draws It Any­way

Ray Brad­bury Reveals the True Mean­ing of Fahren­heit 451: It’s Not About Cen­sor­ship, But Peo­ple “Being Turned Into Morons by TV”

Ray Brad­bury Explains Why Lit­er­a­ture is the Safe­ty Valve of Civ­i­liza­tion (in Which Case We Need More Lit­er­a­ture!)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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