A new Brazilian animation feature talks about love, civilization and the need for cultural identity in a disaster setting. Review for the adventure satire Until Sbornia Do Us Part.
Until Sbornia do us part (Até que a Sbórnia nos separe) is a Brazilian based on the musical spectacle Tangos & Tragedies, created by Nico Hique Gomez and Nico Nicolaiewsky who voice the main characters, the silent and conservative Kraunus and the lovesick Conductor Pletskaya.
The show has been going on for the 25 years in Brazil and worldwide, reaching one million people as its audience; yet the script (written by Rodrigo John and Tomás Creus) has more of the air and the feeling of a disaster sci-fi movie with an urban message for the masses. No wonder that Ed Wood's Plan 9 from outer space features prominently in the film's design
Directors Otto Guerra (a pioneer animator revered in his native Brazil) and the newcomer Ennio Torresan Jr (storyboard artist for Dreamworks' Turbo) create a nostalgic but also passionate world of an outcast island. Sbornia is an island once separated from the main continent by a wall which accidentally collapses.
Like the inhabitants of another European wall, Sbornian residents have now to accommodate themselves to modernity and endure the deprecating comments of the "continentals".
he two musicians, Kraunus and Pletskaya are the ones to break the barriers of either axeball barbarism (a savage reminder of Brazil football excesses) or high-brow Continental contempt.
The latter is represented by the angular-faced and elite lady Alba, which has nothing but contempt for the unmannered musicians. Still, cultural misunderstandings (which do not cause the laughs intended) are replaced by a solid dramatic story.
Pletskaya will fall in love with the rebellious Coclichot, the daughter of the greedy capitalist Gonçalo Delacroix, while her father will do everything to exploit the precious plant Bizuwin -to the peril of Sbornia itself.
At the same time, the conservative Kraunus and his comrade associates at CAOS society cannot face the introduction of modern perils (including machines and mannequins) that now overpopulate Sbornia.
What matters most in Until Sbornia do us part is the old-fashioned romance and its obstacles, which however manages to keep the film alive and enjoyable. Characters are as heroic or stubborn as their initial credentials, but their mutual collision (like different stars in the galaxy) creates both the dramatic tension (a superb third act) and the spectacle of an animated world gone in the way of live-action King Kong.
2D animation and design background convey the sense of a distant but also familiar epoch, in a country where foxtrot is celebrated, but Sputniks are also discussed. Music by André Abujamra does a fine job (as well as reworked Brazilian tunes) to convey a sense of an age gone by.
Characters have a laidback design, but they are not reduced to essentials either. It is a world which we might have known through movies (Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin an unlikely reference here), but still quite apart from our urban, impersonal environment. Something like a world in a cage, really.
Until Sbornia do us part is not intended for small kids, but its story and treatment could still belong to family entertainment. It weaves with care the stories of three persons desperately seeking their new identity.
Sometimes it seems to diverge (the inconsequential character development of Kraunus), but never fails to emphasize the need for societal bonds, even under massive volcano eruptions.