Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Review: ROSA by Jesus Orellana

While many movies coming out from big studios - especially those that are CGI-heavy - can cost tens (or hundreds) of millions of dollars, there are always those films out there that prove that budget isn't everything.  Case in point?  ROSA, an animated short film by Spanish comic artist Jesus Orellana, created by himself over a year using Daz Studio and Blender.  If you aren't familiar with Blender, it's a free open-source graphics software.  It's responsible for a number of great short films like Elephant Dreams and Sintel.  A full list can be found on their site.

But back to ROSA.  The film, which clocks in at around ten minutes, revolves around a female cyborg who awakens into a desolate post-apocalyptic world...and soon finds out she's not as alone as she thought.

There's no voice acting in ROSA, but that isn't detrimental to the film, and in fact enhances it.  The moody soundtrack and sound effects are more than enough to set the eerie atmosphere.  It looks great as well, as good as - if not better - than a major motion picture release.  The color palette is varied but muted enough to show the world as being dreary and dirtied.  The animation is fantastic; there's a flurry of a fight and a chase scene, neither of which skip a beat, and metal, glass, blood, plants, and more are all rendered perfectly.

We're thrown into the middle of the story, and the lack of dialogue means not many questions are answered.  Still, the emotional impact gets through to the viewer thanks to the fully-realized (if mysterious) characters.  By the end of the film you'll no doubt be thinking about what you've just seen and, almost as importantly, what you didn't see: how did the world get to this point?  Who is Rosa, and what's her purpose?  Her adversary's?  What happens next?  The best films, I think, leave you asking questions and wanting more, and ROSA certainly delivers.

Interestingly enough, some of these questions might get answers.  It's been reported that 20th Century Fox is heading up a live-action adaptation of ROSA.  How the movie will fare, in a different format in a studio with more parties involved, is yet to be scene, but it certainly will be an adventure.

ROSA shows the strengths of small projects in which the creator has complete control, as well as the versatility of open-source tools such as Blender.  Can a Hollywood equivalent match the original?  Maybe, maybe not.  But either way, you'll find yourself watching these ten minutes over and over again.

Watch ROSA on the official site, Vimeo, or YouTube.


  1. "But either way, you'll find yourself watching these ten minutes over and over again."

    you can say that again :) for a short clip made by only a person, in a year, with blender, it's at the very least fantastic!

  2. You won't hear any argument from me on that! I actually watched the whole thing before learning that it was essentially a one man show; that made it all the more amazing and impressive.

  3. its a shame hollywood don't just stick with it being a c.g.i. With a full cgi film, you know its not real, so it goes to the back of your mind (if done well) and you can concentrate on getting sucked into the narrative, and it seems more real cuz your not thinking about it, wheras with live actions that use cgi heavy effects, your constantly pulled out of the story by the effects that pop up now throughout, to remind you "this isnt real you know!!", i just wish they'd stick with one or the other, i mean, why dont they use animatronics anymore, they'd look really good the way technology is these days, case in point, the new 'the thing' movie, the cgi looked good, but it woulda looked more realistic with animatronics. So i think if they do a 'Rosa' motion pic flik, they should do it cgi exclusive.

  4. I would be totally on board with sticking with full CGI, and I see where you're coming from. Make-up and costumes can look great - case in point being, for example, the Hellboy films (Abe Sapien in particular) - and CGI can sometimes be clumsy, but even disregarding that I think ROSA has such a unique style that it might be best suited as a CGI film. It will be interesting to see how the studio approaches it. Could be nice to try to check in with Mr. Orellana to see how involved he is in the process and how it's shaping up.