Soar is one of those magical animated short films that demonstrate more storytelling ability than a feature film. It tells the fantastical tale of a young girl who befriends a tiny boy pilot who’s dropped out of the sky. Through the course of a single day, she must find a way to fly her new friend back home before he is stranded on Earth forever.
The protagonist is a young aviator named Mara who builds model airplanes from a series of her own hand-drawn blueprints. The attempt viewers see at the start of the film ends in failure as her biplane crashes to the earth. Dejected, she sits at a picnic table, staring off into the distance, the blueprints gathered in a box in a small Radio-Flyer style red wagon.
Her thoughts are interrupted by a small, blue valise falling from the sky and hitting her in the head before landing on the picnic table. Before she can open it, a model-sized airship crashes on the tabletop as well, its propeller slowly coming to a stop.
The surprises continue as Lucas, a small pilot, crawls out of the wreckage. He scrambles toward the valise, desperate to retrieve it, and at first does not see the giant (from his perspective) girl sitting at the picnic table that served as his landing field. When he reaches the valise, he is relieved, but then panics as he takes in his surroundings. He grabs a sharpened yellow pencil resting on the table and prepares to defend himself against the young girl.
Not surprisingly, Mara and Lucas bond as they attempt to repair his airship and return him back to his family’s armada that is quickly flying away. How they manage this—if they manage this–and the treasure that lies within the valise are mysteries that will be revealed as the film unfolds.
In an interview with The Graphic Slate, the film’s creator/director Alyce Tzue explains:
“Life is all about doing something for someone…be it something small! I aimed to portray how a relationship between two very different beings can change lives for better. Open eyes and open minds. If you want to do it – do it. No matter what comes your way…just go for it with all your heart and all your might!”
The animation of the film is fantastic. The details of the model airplane and the airship are realistic. The airplane’s propeller looks hand-carved—like the young female aviator had whittled and sanded it for her model. The airship appears functional, although it would have been interesting to see more of the power source that turns the propellers. I like to think it is steam powered, although it is not clear in the film.
Soar was created as Alyce Tzue’s thesis project at the Academy of Art University. After being presented at film festivals all over the globe, the film began to garner critical attention. Soar is the 2015 Gold Winner of the 42nd Student Oscars, Best Student Animation Winner at Palm Springs, and Finalist at the Student BAFTAs, along with many other awards.
Written and Directed by Alyce Tzue
Music by Jack Gravina
Produced by Anson Yu
VFX Supervisor Derek Flood
Created at the Academy of Art University
Soar; Animated Short, Makes You Soar Beyond Horizons Believing That the Sky is the Limit. (n.d.). The Graphic Slate. Retrieved from http://www.thegraphicslate.com/animation/people-animation/soar-animated-short-makes-you-soar-beyond-horizons-believing-that-the-sky-is-the-limit/2016/01