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Dog and Robot in Robot Dreams (IMDB)

Robot Dreams is an animation film with great appeal to younger audiences and good entertainment for older audiences. Source: Australian Catholics.

While it is a Spanish animation production, it is very much geared for English-speaking audiences around the world. Based on a comic book of 2007, but set in New York City in 1984 (and, for contemporary audiences, the frequent presentation of the Twin Towers evokes memories of 9/11 and its consequences).

While there are numerous signs in English – roadsigns, shops, the subway – only a word or two of exclamation is heard throughout the whole film, although there are a range of songs in the background and their lyrics. To that extent, the film works like a silent film, the audience responding to the characters and interactions. And, given the characters, the wordless narrative means the film is easily accessible even to small children.

The animation style is enjoyable. It is amazing to watch how much can be discovered about characters with simple drawing. Here it is mainly through the eyes and the mouth. The eyes are simply circles with black dots – but the movement of the eyes is extraordinarily lively. As regards the mouth, it is a simple small curve line, able to smile, able to look disappointed – and, sometimes opened to communicate communication. The impact of the story and characters depends on this. There is also the vivid background of New York City; its streets and shops, and visits to Ocean Beach.

The central character is Dog. The opening illustrates how alone he is in his apartment, watching television and playing computer games. Suddenly, Dog sees an advertisement for a companion robot. Dog orders it, puts it together, and the robot comes alive – with its eyes and its mouth indicating an inner life as well as affection for Dog, and the capacity for imitating anything and everything. The joy of the early part of the film consists of the various exclusions and sharing between Robot and Dog, especially an excursion to Ocean Beach.

However, with all the pleasant scenes, there are some sad sequences when Robot’s battery dies and he becomes immobile on the beach, stranded there for months because the beach closes for winter. Dog does his best to retrieve Robot.

And the dreams of the title? They play a key role and the content of the dreams and the emotion plays with the emotions of the audience.

A pleasing experience, excellent animation, and the wonder of responding to appearances, body language, without characters expressing themselves in words.

Review by Fr Peter Malone MSC, Jesuit Media.

Robot Dreams: Directed by Pablo Berger. 102 minutes. Rated PG (Mild themes and coarse language)


Robot Dreams (Jesuit Media via Australian Catholics)