A sequel to the multi-award-winning short film ‘Hanging By A Thread’ which was released in 2013; Meeting MacGuffin re-introduces us to a new breed of scientists, the Clothespin Freaks, who have been scouring a post-apocalyptic future earth where humankind has fallen apart in an attempt to reassemble human fragments and create an alternate form of humanity. Guided by Lost And Found, an animated sign, they travel with the nearly-finished new humans called Homeys, through underground caverns to complete their reconstruction and meet Gormal MacGuffin, a wise, blue-eyed groundhog climatologist with expertise in water renewal who prepares the Homeys for their mission to restore balance to a decimated Earth. Here is our review of Catya Plate’s new stop-motion animated short ‘Meeting MacGuffin’.
Movies can create entirely new worlds for us, it is quite rare but it is one of films biggest joys, the ability to transport the audience there as well is usually the sign of a well-made film. What occurs more often, especially when budgets are low, is that directors go for realism, for worlds we can recognize. One of the many pleasures of Catya Plate’s ‘Meeting MacGuffin’ is that there is not a single recognizable landscape within it. Everything looks strange and haunting even the characters are original creations looking equally sorrowful and grotesque.
Plate’s short film is credited as an animated ecological thriller and is shot in a process called stop-action animation. In an ordinary animated film, the characters are hand drawn. In ‘Meeting MacGuffin’ they are handmade and then moved little by little, frame by frame so that they appear to live. This allows a three-dimensional world to be presented, instead of the flatter 2d one of normal animated movies. Catya Plate is, without doubt, a hugely talented animator she has created her world from scratch. Every cave, every garden, every room, every piece of equipment has been painstakingly realised before she has sent her skeletal, pathetic, yet extremely hopeful little characters in to live there.
Beginning with a brief recap of what happened in the previous film ‘Meeting MacGuffin’ wastes no time in throwing us into this apocalyptic new world order. Humans thanks to ourselves are now extinct and the only things that remain of what we once where are our scattered bones and brains. The Clothespin Freaks are the only survivors. They are scientists who venture outside to collect as many human remains as they can get their hands on. These ‘freaks’ are a strange mix between Dr. Frankenstein and The Wombles! Their idea is to repopulate the earth with humans they have created called Homey’s a nice play on the title of homo sapiens.
Once they have recreated a small group of ten, The Clothespin Freaks travel with the Homeys to an underground laboratory called the Lost and Found Bureau. Here under the guidance of a lost and found signpost, they embark on a surreal adventure in order to finish their experiments. They visit skin experts, eye experts, and clothing experts all in extremely unusual forms. The ‘MacGuffin’ of the title is a Groundhog with a Ph.D. named Gormal who is a climate expert who had been preparing for the destruction of the earth for many, many years. MacGuffin is a little unsure about the idea of repopulating the earth, why should they give people a second chance, when it was these humans who helped to destroy the world in the first place? This and a few other home truths and moral equations are sent our way before the short’s 10 minute run time is up.
What ‘Meeting MacGuffin’s’ biggest strength is is a visual richness that is so abundant it deserves more than one viewing. First watch the short for its story, go back to it for the message and then watch it again just to look in the corners of the screen, and appreciate the little visual surprises and inspirations that are hidden into every nook and cranny. Catya Plate, much like her film, is a true original. I expect many more awards will be coming her way for this surreal, brilliant, and hauntingly uplifting piece of art.