A cursory glance at Nicholas Ménard’s Somewhere suggests it is the sort of animated short film that would be at home within a National Film Board exhibition. The intentional contrasts in colour, the disfigurement of the human form, and raw emotion contained within the work suggests a director who is well established within his field. Naturally, I was pleasantly surprised upon discovering that Mr. Ménard submitted Somewhere as part of his first year curriculum at the Royal College of Art.

Art project or not, I found myself preparing a deeply symbolic reading of this short film. I had thoughts on the squaring of the astronaut’s posture on Earth and within his space ship as a commentary on humanity reshaping itself to better integrate with technology. I assumed the astronaut’s arm was somehow deemed unnecessary for the mission, thus surgically removed in some sort of Kafka meets Foucault horror story. The blending together of reds and blues on the alien planet were to be a statement on the universality of life as personified though the astronaut and the woman left behind on Earth. Naturally, the T-Shaped pattern on the astronaut’s space suit would work as either a call back to the Fordist iconography of Brave New World, literally apropos of an astronaut crashing on an alien world, or an invocation of Christian symbolism – for some reason I couldn’t quite figure out.

As I rapidly approached the danger zone of overly-academic wanking, I thought it best to do a little more research on the film. What follows is a quote from Ménard as found on the Creators Project Blog.

The film was actually ‘art therapy’ to get over a past relationship that didn’t make it when I moved to London…When I arrived in London last year, I had this constant, weird feeling of having left a part of me behind; like if part of me was still living my old life in Canada. I wanted to illustrate this feeling that comes with immigration in the film — and the feeling of missing someone in the distance.

Well shit. Give me an inch, and I will give you a yard of words which over-complicate a story about love, loss, and relocation. Despite Mr. Ménard’s peek behind the curtain, I still think a case can be made for some deeper subtext within this film, even if it is unintentional. For example, the astronaut’s contortion act on Earth compared to his ability to stand freely on the alien world might be a personal allegory, but it’s oblique enough that a third-party could internalize the motif of restriction versus freedom into any other number of narratives. Granted that might not be the artist’s intention, but ultimately the ability to engage with the audience, without offering an explicitly didactic message, is one of my measures for a good piece of art.

Bravo, Nicholas Ménard. We can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

Somewhere (2013) from Nicolas Ménard on Vimeo.