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The Eagleman Stag

An innovative and staggeringly beautiful stop motion story about life and the passage of time. Best Animation at BAFTA 2011.

2011 | 5 - 10 | Drama | Human Nature | Stop Motion | UK | 2011

Peter is a famous entomologist who spent all his life reflecting on the way we perceive time. The older we get, he tells us, the more our perception of time changes . The past gets longer, and the present becomes shorter. He demonstrates this thesis by telling us the story of his life, since he was born until his death – and even giving us a small glimpse of the afterlife, in a very poetic and ambiguous ending. Pivotal moment of his life is the discovery of a mysterious insect, the Eagleman Stag from the title, whose blood seems to have regenerative powers . This revelation will change everything, and it will be the focus of all his researches until his last breath.

It ‘s rare to find a short film of this kind. There are many unexpected elements that unsettle the viewer. First, one wonders about the technique that was used. Only a few seconds in the film a question rises: what am I looking at? It looks like stop-motion, but it can’t be. We are used to seeing such incredibly fluid movements only in digital animation, but this is not the case. Everything that appears on the screen was made ​​in-camera. A lot of patience, many collaborators and the use of a special foam that the director jealously guards made this ease of movement possible, which deceives the eye and our own perception. The animation is extremely clean and precise and  the film noir-like cinematography, at times contrasted and at others balanced on shades of gray, make the short a one of a kind piece of work. But it is not only the aesthetic that leaves a mark, the storytelling is equally amazing. It ‘s very difficult to fit an entire life in just 9 minutes, but Please managed to do so with a totally free narrative: the various stages of Peter’s life flow seamlessly, images and shapes are combined and blended together freely to take us from a place and time to another, transforming the live of a peaceful nature lover in a sort of breathtaking adventure. The anxiety of the time compression of the protagonist becomes concrete, ironically, in the reduction of his existence in a few minutes.

We often see innovative films: some have bold animations, others have strong, genius stories, but it is difficult to find a work that is so new and unique from all points of view .

The director released a making-of of the short on Vimeo, which shows the passion and dedication of every single crew member, including Benedict Please, the author of the music (another strong point), Mickey’s brother .


Class of 1984, Michael ” Mikey ” Please is one of the most exciting young British directors. The Eagleman Stag is his graduation film from the Royal College of Art, and after premiering at Sundance  it was selected in more than 50 international film festivals, winning numerous awards, from Clermont- Ferrand to the prestigious BAFTA for Best Animated Short Film. Please is very active in the production of short films and music videos, such as  TV On The Radio’s Second Song. Here you can see the trailer of his latest work , Marilyn Myller.

Flavia Ferrucci

Flavia Ferrucci

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