Romanian filmmaker Anca Damian directs “Marona’s Fantastic Tale.” This film is animated but to say that simply is to limit its power. This film blazes upon the screen in brilliant color with life, quirk and vitality. It is thoughtful and full of joy.
Marona (Lizzie Brocheré) is a half Labrador female puppy who on her fateful day of an exit, reflects upon life. While this grim event is an odd beginning for an animated film, the narrative is disarmingly lively, warm and heartfelt.
Marona was born of a huge militant racist dog, which confuses her. Marona’s mother was a little black and white “street puppy.”
Marona is sold to Manole (Bruno Salomone), an acrobat. Marona loves Manole, but then abruptly she is abandoned. She is picked up by a gentle-faced man Istvan (Thierry Hancisse) who works at a recycling and storage facility. Marona dearly loves Istvan, an extremely kind man. Since he has to work nights, Istvan takes the sweet puppy with a heart for a nose to live with his aged grandfather and mother.
This film sweeps us along in waves of pure magic. Buildings have personality and motion. Beings of every character are represented here. There are humanoid birds and plants. Figures of the comic book realm fuse with terrestrial beings. There are complexions of every color and variety. Women, men, binary and non-binary humans all intermix and blend together in an infinite medley.
Marona lives the life of a dog, taking events in the moment; she is an existential being without judgment.
To its great credit, the film is humanist, without sentiment or sap. This is Marona’s life—a journey of empathy and wonder, peppered with pensive musings.
The film portrays dogs with authenticity and feeling, showing them as guardians and dispensers of comfort and their noses can divine just about anything beyond the reach of humankind. It is also the best meditation on dogs that you are ever likely to see.
This is one film that shows nature as one great whirl of color and motion, both a storm and a caress without any labels or confining identifications. No one being in the film has a static form. All elements: animals, people and beings from another star, possess their own unique locomotion and individuality. Even the cars have teeth, ready to eat someone or something.
By employing a style somewhere between Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse and Cocteau, yet unique to herself, Anca Damian is a true Surrealist.
To some, “Marona’s Fantastic Tale” may be a film for children. But the unusual thing is that it (like the inhabitants within) resists such easy categorization. It is an intoxicating and festive film that emphasizes the dance of life between canines and humans—swirling arms, legs, paws, hands, muzzles and faces into a quantum carnival of watercolor-painted behaviors, gestures and emotions.
This film is part of the Tropic’s Virtual Cinematheque Series. Get tickets here and support the Tropic!
Write Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org