‘Breathless Puppets’ is a beautiful project. Choreographed by Akram Khan and directed by Naaman Azhari, this powerful short film uses rotoscope animation, created by hand-drawing over live action footage. The striking contrast in colours, relatable storyline and expressive movement all combine to make ‘Breathless Puppets’ a breathtaking must-watch.
Torn between being an authentic performer and performing in their lives, unfulfilled by their parents’ choices, we are met by two characters that share a passion for dance. Dance proves to be an escape from their hectic worlds of approval.
Once they both decide to take their performance into their own hands, we see a black and white screen and the choreography they created come to life. What I enjoyed about this piece was not only was it visually powerful, but the ‘breathe’ themes run through the film.
For instance, in the last dance, the drum and bass-esque beat utilises a breath sound as the main component. As the performance heightens, the breath sound increases and you find yourself immersed within a final breakthrough of creativity and independence. We can all relate to this story, as undoubtedly at one point we have been stifled as creatives – by ourselves or by others.
The story then takes a turn, as we travel back to present-day England, where the duo are reunited in unfortunate circumstances amid the coronavirus pandemic – one as a doctor and another as the patient. The unpredictable ending makes for an emotive watch as we are forced to rethink what truly motivates us – our passions or the approval of others.
Akram Khan & Naaman Azhari did an amazing job at telling this story and the unique portrayal made it all the more engaging. I highly recommend ‘Breathless Puppets’ and the further exploration of these artists.