The sociological and ideological divide between parents and their children is a recurring issue that permeates modern society. Take the recent election in the US or the Brexit vote earlier this year – in both these instances the contrast between what the young and old think is best for their country is startling. Now, at first glance, this may seem far removed from a short stop-motion film depicting a young child taken to a farm by his parents. But if we pay close attention to Kangmin Kim’s harrowing Deer Flower, we realise how the film reflects a world in which father and son, mother and daughter, have a harmful misunderstanding of what is best for each other.
The story is quite simple. As mentioned before, an innocent child – we know he is innocent as he won’t even swat a sinister mosquito attempting to drain him of his blood – is driven to a farm that keeps deer. The parents, rather ignorantly, believe that the farm’s much sought-after deer velvet will strengthen their child and ensure that he progresses into adulthood. Unsurprisingly, the disturbing ritual offers no such solace, and instead results in an adverse reaction. Like I said, seemingly far-removed from the Wotsitt-esque President-elect the American people are now burdened with. But under the beautiful visuals, colours and sound design, Kim is conveying how the older generation, despite their best of intentions, can cause harm to their children – for instance, choosing to leave the European Union based on a random figure plastered on a big red bus.
The boxy animation is at times seeped in richness. Kim is not afraid to place trust in an audience’s ability to decipher visual puzzles, and thus the film becomes almost poetic. Despite a few moments where it cuts a few corners, I feel it consistently conveys the terror of this brutal bludgeoning of innocence. We can connect with the young character’s fear as he whispers comfort to the trapped stag; we feel both his and the creature’s pain.
However, it is the story that is this film’s strongest attribute. It subverts our initial expectations and unsettles the conventional journey to adulthood. The symmetrical structure of the film, both beginning and ending in a car journey, indicates a lack of progression suggesting a cycle of events that will continue to erode the child’s innocence until he succumbs to the expectations of his sinister parents. Despite perhaps prompting more questions than it answers, Deer Flower is still provocative and resonates on many levels. It is a wonderful metaphor for the gap between millennials and those belonging to the older generations.
Dir & Scr: Kangmin Kim
Prd: Kangmin Kim
DOP: Kangmin Kim
Music: Daniel Eaton
Country: South Korea
Running Time: 8 mins