Writer/director Daniel Sousa‘s animated short Feral is a tragic tale of a young boy raised in the wild and his attempt to assimilate into human civilization. Drawn with a rough, charcoal texture that shimmers and swirls with each new frame of motion, its contrast of blacks and whites show us the child’s isolation from both worlds at either side. He’s a stark white against the greys of the forest birch trees and building block façade houses, a prize easily seen by the pitch black wolves and people curious as to letting him stand by them. Existence is camouflage, mimicry, and exposed teeth; peace and trust commodities he can ill-afford to risk.
There is a lyricism to the visuals as shapes and shades move into one another and back; our main creature floating and spinning into different forms as fear takes hold and society fails. Wordless besides some growls and an attempt at laughter, Feral is all about mood and tone to tug at our heartstrings in our want for the boy to be okay. Whether or not that’s a possibility in either world, however, remains to be seen and is ultimately up to the child. Too wild to know how to interact in the human sphere, you wonder if there is actually more danger here than in the forest. At least in the trees its all about intimidation—one doesn’t have to be subservient in order to be accepted.
Composer Dan Golden‘s score is a beautiful accompaniment to the imagery as this dark fairy tale of uncertainty plays out. Its crescendos swell as the boy’s aggression mounts and grows softer once calm or fright sets in. We’ve all felt that desire to hide when the unknown stares us in the face—to question kindness and understand anger as truth. He didn’t ask to be left in the wild nor did he know or hope for a rebirth in the city. He merely makes due with what’s presented until those animalistic tendencies for survival kick in. Where he goes is a mystery—he’s a boy without a home. Only nature knows his place as he searches to become one with her whether it means living in union or losing himself to merge into one.