'Miserable Miracle' by Ryo Orikasa

Miserable Miracle animation still

Tokyo-based animation filmmaker Ryo Orikasa has a way of animating the written word, and getting awards in the process. A graduate of the Tokyo University of the Arts, he has completed 'Echo Chamber' (2016), 'Datum Point'. His latest film, 'Miserable Miracle' is a co-production between MIYU Productions (France), NFB (Canada) and New Deer (Japan). The film won the Grand Prix at the Ottawa International Animation Festival 2023.

An animated adaptation from Misérable Miracle by Henri Michaux (1956), on his experiences with mescaline - Film Synopsis

Film Review (Mikhail Gurevich):

A truly remarkable film that “embraces animation as an intoxicating cocktail of image, word, and movement”, as the jury statement goes. It’s indeed a daring play with and around the ‘textual matter’, and moreover, of handwritten-manuscript or doodle-bordering nature. It appears, though, not out of the blue, this kind of inclination – and indeed the strive for the specific variety of filmmaking – shows already in the director's graduate work at Tokyo University of the Arts, back in 2011, 'Writings Fly Away’. There he attempted to draw-in-raw, so to speak, the text-pages of Oscar Wilde’s 'The Happy Prince' (with a characteristic dedication to none other than J.L. Borges who once translated this tale) – in fact, attempting “to set this work – a film using texts, or a film-book – between watching and reading”, in his own formulation.

Here, in the new step into this strange intriguing territory, he goes further and edgier, both in terms of sources and his own ambitions: ‘freely adapting’ the writings of Henri Michaux and being ‘freely inspired’ by his drawings, as indicated right in the credits. Yes, a stylization in certain part and of a certain sort – in that perhaps connecting rather closely to the whole trend or movement which Michaux was somehow associated with, to what was labeled ‘asemic writing’, with its train of ambiguous collision of the verbal and the pictorial, and ambivalence of the ‘meaning’. Quite an enthralling and risky move which in turn surely entails complex, entangled dramaturgy between the voice-over – passionate and distant at once, complicatedly lyrical still – and the visuals – oscillating between almost abstract and quasi-figurative, in powerfully rhythmic waves – as two distinct albeit intertwined narratives.

Watch the 'Miserable Miracle' trailer:

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