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Harp [Staffan Gnosspelius, UK, 2018]

It seems wrong to recommend Harp to anyone without advising them see it without any expectations, as I was fortunate enough to do. However, if there is anything to be said about this short, it is that it’s a visual experience unlike any other and a truly original piece of animation. Harp is an animated music video created by Staffan Gnosspelius on a single piece of paper wherein the artist animates through a series of changes.

The talent alone that’s required to execute such a piece is praiseworthy, but the film is a poignant, moving and often hypnotic piece of animation in its own right. There is no clear narrative to speak of, and what we are faced with is a series of surreal dreamlike images brought to life through stunning usage of colour and extraordinary imaginative vision.

'Harp' - created on one sheet of paper over a five month period with over 9000 changes.

The easiest comparison would be Loving Vincent [Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman, USA/UK/Poland, 2017] for its similar use of animation through a series of paintings. The song accompanying the animation is serene and makes you completely lose track of time. This combined with the dreamy animation makes for a transcendent experience. The film is only six minutes, which as previously mentioned flies by, so even if this type of experimental storytelling isn’t to everyone’s taste, it is still worth watching if for no other reason than to appreciate the sheer level of craftsmanship and dedication (the animation took five months to come to fruition).

The imagery and artwork brings to mind childhood dreams and nightmares especially paired with the song playing over like a lullaby. The inherently childish nature of the art makes it such a resonant piece that all can relate to on a fundamental level and the scratchy, homemade aesthetic adds charm. The only disappointment concerning Harp is the knowledge that not nearly enough people will see it.


'Harp' was a film submission in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2018.

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