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A Short Mission: ‘Coda’ Directed by Alan Holly

Death is always going to coerce something poetic from humanity. It’s the most mysterious yet inevitable aspect of life. No one knows how death is going to echo on after our life ends. No one knows the dance will take when we transcend this mortal coil. No one knows. It sticks to our mind and spirits, looming over us no matter what course of happiness or ignorance we take. It’s tragic and unpredictable – taking anyone and everyone to a plain we don’t know anything about. Or even if it exists – it could just be a blank space of nothingness, rolling for eternity.

So artists, filmmakers and anyone who tries to wrap their minds around Death as a concept end up regaling the phenomenon in these poetic, ethereal and stirring works. Whilst some may take the comedic elements to counteract the depressing “everyone must die” atmosphere (See: Death playing Twister with Bill & Ted), a lot of people treat it like a masterpiece – an ever-going verse on the futility of life.

That verse is sung highly in short film Coda.

Short listed for an Oscar nomination but inexplicably, never getting one, this other-world beauty is a breath-taking allegory of life after a fateful accident. A drunk man on his way home from a night out is run over reaching for change. Unsure of where he is, disorientated by the accident, he wearily walks around whilst the hooded cloak of Death tries to find him. When they meet, Death takes him on a journey through his past to try and assimilate him with his new fate.

This week sees a resurgence of hand-drawn animation with Coda and this week’s Song of the Sea release (Both, by the way, come from Ireland so could the Emerald Isles be the new powerhouse of animation?). Allan Holly, the director, has created such an enchanting and redolent short that it melts into your imagination seamlessly. The animation is exquisite as these characters float on screen through landscapes of dreams and vibrancy. Coda is a gorgeous use of colours and imagery that haunt the screen with this unnerving and spirituous journey as our man filters through the time and space of his mind. Outstanding use of texture and shapes, Holly is keen to showcase the fantastical elements of his transition and it is sublime to watch.

The overall tone is this aching element of remembrance and re-birth. As our protagonist drifts through his memories trying to come to terms with his death, there is this painful undercurrent off loss of life and how fleeting it is as he tries to grasp some happiness and meaning to something that has drifted away from him.

It’s a glorious exploration of the fleeting moments you’ll never get back and that abandon in your most tragic moments. Coda has this sense of truth – despite everyone being unaware of what happens when you are snuffed from. This is almost gospel and flows with this haunting sense of finality whilst trying to grasp the moments that left you in love, in loss and in life….


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