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The Great Rabbit by Atsushi Wada (2012): Film Review

The Great Rabbit animation by Atsushi Wada still

The intro line in the Silver Bear awarded film 'The Great Rabbit' (2012, Sacrebleu Productions /  CaRTe bLaNChe) by Atsushi Wada states:

If you believe in the Rabbit, it means that you’ll believe anything / If you don’t believe in the Rabbit, it means that you wouldn’t believe anything.

This mode sets the whole tone of the Japanese animation auteur's (Bird in The Peninsula, The Mechanism of Spring) 7-minute films which is as rich in scenes as it is devoid of any unnecessary visual background characterization. A big boy carries an egg accompanied by a weasel; a hand strongly forces the egg to fit under the boy's clothes, which a bird then takes away. All this is in the film's first minute, until the rabbit appears, muttering jibberish (yet this is to be revered, not frowned upon).

The next chapters of 'The Great Rabbit' detail the rituals the boy (and all boys) have to pass through -even securing the possibility of a humanoid rabbit, which for a brief time assumes more power than the others. Power and obedience is one strand that runs through 'The Great Rabbit': unassuming, suggestive and highly manipulative exactly for that.

The accompaniment of power is surveillance; the film toys with two brief experiences of CCTV cameras (the weasel carrying the egg) and a rewind of a TV video screen (the rabbit guru of the end). Yet, 'The Great Rabbit' never makes a fuss of its power relations -and that is the most creepy factor in the whole film.

Furthermore, the constant change of its agents and the switch between the ruler and the ruled leaves the audience with no evident sympathies; this is a world in which being enclosed (a constant motif in the film, starting with the eggs and culminating with the characters found themselves on a net) matters more than moving outside the line. 

Atsushi Wada offers little solace in nature nostalgia; its animal representatives still fight for survival or become predators themselves. Yet everywhere in the film we find this calm sense of togetherness -even if it's just to use and abuse each other. Hopefully, the boy and his weasel will prevail in this deeply enchanting, mystifying but still jovial animation short -in its ritualistic way.

Watch The Great Rabbit

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