On the occasion of his short film “The Fox” being screened at international festivals, such as this year’s Ulju Mountain Film Festival, Iranian director briefly described what he explained was the most demanding project he has done so far. Trained in graphic design and animation the film took over two years to complete, surely a time of many challenges as well as rewards.
In the center of the film is a young fox on the hunt for his prey, preferably rabbits, in a beautiful forest. His attention is diverted, however, at the sight of a young female fox, which proves to be a dangerous mistake since he becomes the target of a pack of hunting dogs sent out by a local hunter. When he is captured the hunter hangs a little bell around his neck, making it impossible for the animal to hunt since he is spotted right away. Meanwhile the sadistic hunter waits for the fox to return and finally give in to the inevitable, especially with winter having started.
The story which is based on a book by Jean Guèvre titled “Khajah-yi Tajdar” is essentially a fable about the cruelty in our world as well as the universal fight for survival. Allegedly, the Iranian Qajar Kingdom’s first ruler enjoyed fox hunting from the perspective of the prey, a view central to Javadi’s short film. Considering the bell makes it impossible for the animal to hunt and survive in the winter months, it is driven to the edge with thoughts of his past life and the thirst for revenge defining his days and weeks.
Overall, the expressionist style of animation highlights the lyrical as well as the dark, cruel tones of the story at hand. In combination with Behnam Moayerian’s beautiful music, the narration represents a slow, but dramatic change from the almost carefree days of the first hunt, and the experience of first love, to the bitterness of being branded an outsider, a hunter devoid of any purpose. At the same time, this approach emphasizes the general ambiguity of the story, offers an invitation to the viewer to come up with a different interpretation, which also refers to the rich literary tradition of the director’s home country.
In the end, “The Fox” is a cinematic fable about violence, hunting and survival. Its great imagery and music will likely appeal to audiences who are more than welcome to share their thoughts about the message of this superficially simple, but eventually deeply thoughtful story.