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Strange World (2022)
Journey to a place where nothing is as it appears!
Filmmaker(s): Don Hall

A journey deep into an uncharted and treacherous land, where fantastical creatures await the legendary Clades—a family of explorers whose differences threaten to topple their latest, and by far most crucial, mission.

Strange World (2022)

Ted’s Law

Forget the story; despite the appealing message(s) this is not a decent way to spend time. But it does illustrate a principle I have noticed, which I believe applies universally in film projects and in most successful introspective AI projects. I modestly call this ‘Ted’s Law’.

Here’s how it works in this case: we have an animated film — basically a three dimensional moving cartoon. A great many decisions are made both for viewer appeal and production efficiency. So we end up with what we see; not as real as Pixar toys, or Boxtrolls, and with Goofy inspired dog noses. That is the world of the movie.

In an extended framing device, we have a sequence in comic book format, narrated by our errant father. One purpose of this is to establish his world view as cartoonish — to be criticised piecewise through the film. The remarkable thing that shows Ted’s Law are the visual conventions used in the ‘comic’. This is deliberately artificial, with pen outlines, blocks of colour, a brighter palette than in the film.

It establishes two steps: from our world, the one we live in as a viewer to the world of the film. And secondly from the world of the film to the framing world the film creates as a comic book, also named ‘Strange World’.

The collection of abstractions from the first to the second, is perceptually equal to the similar collection of abstractions from the second (the film) to the third (the comic).

I see this thousands of times in my roughly ten thousand film review of this phenomenon. The usual purpose it to help us register the conventions and compromises of the animation as real enough.

A similar set of decisions is made in this project setting the visual convention of the ‘inner world’ of the Gaian being, and the outer world of the city, presumably on the shell. This could have been exploited more effectively because the big reveal in the film is that the society of people that consider themselves the apogee of living beings are in fact an unnecessary, dependent system in a larger being.

You have to step outside the movie for the nature of the reference here, because in the popular mind, the machinery of biology and some notion of consciousness are blurred. I see it every day in the emerging science of Biosemiotics, which depends on a literal notion of biological agency as conscious reasoning — where difficulties in the ‘science’ are fixed by fudging the definition of consciousness.

Now stepping back into the film, you can see the decisions between the world of the people in greens and blues and the world internal to the turtle in pinks and oranges. Some creatures in this inner world do have consciousness, most particularly Splat (the helper T cell), who ‘crosses over’ into the world of the family dog. (There’s a comic scene where Splat helps the dog in a rescue.)

But this is far less considered than the comic book framing device.

Posted in 2022

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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