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Vermine [Jeremie Becquer, Denmark, 2018]

Vermine (Vermin) is a Danish-produced animated short written, directed and co-animated by Jeremie Becquer. The story takes place in a world of anthropomorphic mice and rats on the underground of the French Metro. Dressed in cloaks, scarves and clutching handbags, the rodents go about their routine in very familiar and somewhat ordinary fashion, but as the scene progresses we discover the much deeper and divisive inner workings of this society.

We follow Hubert, a poet whose melancholic and lyrical voice-over describes his surroundings as he collects his thoughts and ideas for poetic material. Hubert is a rat whose species and darker colour is ostensibly offensive to many of the white mice around him. He minds his business but is sensitive to the scornful glances and repulsed gestures he receives. But he goes on, gathering words and images for inspiration, until he is accosted by a group of white mice in police uniforms, who verbally and then physically attack him very publicly on the train platform.

Drawn only in black and white, the animation’s visual style helps to strongly consolidate the story’s message about the injustices of racism and the violent exploitation of authority within the judicial system. The narration has an almost elegiac quality that gives the audience a foreboding sense from the outset. Clocking in at only 6 minutes, Vermine imaginatively delivers a sharp indictment of the social imbalances that, even when hidden beneath the surface, are very much in plain sight for those on the receiving end.

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