A world dominated by male shoes leave the women captured and used for procreation.
When one female shoe manages to break free of her confines, she is forced to disguise herself as a male to provide for her daughter. Unfortunately, she is unable to produce in the cigarette factory as well as her male counterparts who exchange favours to their boss. Though when she tries, the results create a different outcome.
Exposed as a female, the boss attempts to turn her into a male and later tries to destroy her. However, she is able to infiltrate the system and destroy it from the inside, leaving her in control of everything.
Though, when she ages and passes away, her daughter inherits the thrown without learning any of the hard lessons that her mother did.
This inventive film is unlike anything that you have ever seen before. The stop-motion feature is the debut work from Chinese animator Shengwei Zhou. The completed project utilized over 60,000 unique photographs over a 90-minute running time.
SHe enjoyed a prosperous run through international film festivals and collected many accolades along the way. Currently, the movie is available to stream through Amazon Prime Video thanks to distributor Los Angeles Animation Festival (LAAF).
Unlike and stop-motion movie available, SHe is comprised of everyday objects and only uses clay to fill in the blanks. Objects like clips, bottle caps, and toothpaste tubes become critters and wildlife. Socks become a food source. And the cast of the show are ordinary shoes.
Though visually intriguing, it is vital to not get distracted as the feature relies heavily on symbolism and metaphors to drive the story. Additionally, there is a lot of social commentaries compacted into the animation.
There are a few messages the artist approaches through the film. The most obvious being gender oppression and the patriarchy that begins the film. Though that quickly turns into a man versus nature theme when the mechanical male shoes become overthrown by the organic female. But by the end of the story, the art attacks the systems that we fall victim to, and how one societal system is no better than the next. The last being much more applicable to Chinese culture.
There are likely many more topics covered through the film like race, and anti-smoking. But everyone may have their own unique interpretation. And multiple viewings could fruit other perspectives.
The surprising thing about the film is the deep messages and themes that are approached in the story. There is no dialogue, minimal characters, and the settings are theatrical set pieces that deserve to sit in a museum.
However, the ticking motion brings out elaborate scenes and plots. And you could never expect the broadness of the story from the beginning. It grows as slow and fruitful as the citrus fruit eggs in the film.
The ambitious nature and sheer scale of bringing a full-length feature to life through stop-motion are always impressive. But the way this film utilizes anything and the kitchen sink to create profound messages and symbolism is extraordinary. The amount of creativity and ingenuity that went into its development is worlds apart from what dominates modern popular culture.
I am glad that I smoked a substantial joint before settling into this film, though some psilocybin or LSD may have been more useful. Watching SHe is an experience that takes you into a unique world full of inanimate objects tinkering away. It is more difficult to shake it off at the end of the feature than it is to get captivated by it at the beginning.
On a final note, I am not sure how best to score this film. It is unlike anything out there, and therefore we have nothing to compare it to. It is an artistic interpretation that works thanks to stop-motion animation that could not be achieved in any other fashion. One thing is for certain, this is an unforgettable movie.