“If you must blink, do it now. You must pay careful attention to everything you see, no matter how unusual it may seem. If you look away even for an instant, then are hero will surely perish” – Kubo
Firstly I must say this film is without a doubt on my list for one of best films in 2016, it has also been nominated for a golden globe! So I would like to say “Well Done” to everyone who was part of the team when making this masterpiece! … but, this frame is about how Kubo and the Two Strings is not a film for children!
I could end this now by saying the ending of Kubo made me cry and that should be all that matters, and not in a simple oh it was a “little sad” way either. But, if I was to leave it there, this would be a waste of a Frame and within films, no frame should be wasted.
So, why is Kubo not a children’s film?
Where do I start?
Well, although a mass amount of the trailer is light-hearted, THE TRAILER! It should have been the first warning sign to everyone that Kubo although an animation (<- I will come on to this later) shouldn’t be watched by our younglings. For one it opens with the quote I used to start this Frame. A quote that clearly states death is to be a main subject of the film. BACKGROUND INFO TIME: The first funeral I went to was when I was eighteen, as before that my family thought that was too young to experience death. I now thank them for this as I also believe that when I was eleven I was too young to go to my granddad’s funeral. And, if I am at that age too young, then why would I think other young children should be watching death? Did I say there were spoilers in this? Yes, the end of Kubo is pretty much a funeral, one that made me heavily cry. I should have seen it coming, but even I fell into that animation trap door. Even when all the signs were there, my pre-concived notions were well fooled.
I can’t say anything bad about the art style because it is amazing. I wish I had the time to write a Frame on the technical achievements within this film. *Looks up towards the sky* Maybe I should do that! But, back to the art style and cinematography, where they themselves are another reason behind why I believe Kubo is not for children. The trailer did an amazing job at cutting in the brightest moment of the film in-between the overall darkness that is shown. For one, the shot with the sisters (Image Three) in the trailer is full of horror conventions, with its eerie sound and character performances. The short frame calls out for “Kuuuu-boooo“, which sending shivers down your back. This dark style of cinematography is seen massively in films with horror narratives. Much less in films with a child hero. This is due the common practices and convention within the filming industry and also ideas about what children are generally scared of. Darkness being a massive part of main fears
Coming back to what I said above, animation. A word that triggers images of, ‘Pepper Pig’, ‘Cartoons’ and the classic ‘Happily Ever After’. I can’t tell you which came first, the ‘Happily Ever After’ narrative which we now associate with animation or animation which brought life to the ‘Happy Ever After’ narrative. Either way, they have been used together way too often that the stereotype is strong. It doesn’t matter how dark an animation could look, it is still an animation. In that sense of the word, it is not real and so there for won’t present anything realistic. Secondly, it will conclude by making us feel happy. Both in Kubo’s case are WRONG!
Kubo although set in fantasy world touches upon many great realistic life moments that anyone could relate to, and due to the characters being made out of clay there is no fault in their performances. More reason behind why the creepy and/or emotional scenes are more intense within the film, in comparison to the film that is being acted out with real people.
(Image Four) looks at what the age ratings mean to different countries. They all touch upon the same topics, from the scary scenes to the occasional violence within Kubo, but none mention the representation of death or loss that is seen within the film.
Age ratings of 2016 take into account: Discrimination, Drugs, Imitable behaviour, Language, Nudity, Sex, Threat and Violence. The two bold words within this list are evident within Kubo. However, these warnings on age ratings don’t cover mental damage and still overlook many things, one such as death. Although arguments can be made that death comes under violence or the presences of it is seen as fear. I am not talking about watching someone die, or the act of killing someone. I am looking more at the after effects of a death and what it looks like to a child. Within Kubo, we see a child left at the end of the film without his parents. Presenting loneliness, abandonment and if this was a side story it might have just slipped under the radar. Kubo’s narrative leads us to his parent’s death, making it the climax, an unmissable wave of emotions that would have hit all ages.
Don’t mistake this Frame as a snap at the film by any means, I am more looking at the people who age rate the films! Although at the end of the day I believe it should be a parents choice in what they show their children. For a parent to properly be able to make that judgement on films, the marketing needs to me honest.
So, what I am saying is, because Kubo is an animation does that make it okay to show images that they would never see acted out by real people? Kubo might not have discreet controversial messages hidden within it, about drug or discrimination but does that make real like fear, tragedies free game?
Please let me know your opinion on these topics, and thank you for reading my first FilmFrame!
“Every goodbye is painful, but when that pain leaves, your memories will stay!” – TotallyJustMe