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One Quiet Winter Night

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Hi everyone. This is my first-ever completed film, made for Newgrounds' Christmas 2008 collection.

It is about a young boy who dreams of journeying in Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve.

This might be a little soft-toned for Newgrounds, but I hope that some of you will appreciate it anyway. It took me about a year of intermittent work.

Some of the scenes are quite dark, so it is best viewed in dim or no light. Oh, and you probably need a fast computer for it to play smoothly...

Happy holidays!

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I love how this movie is so christmassy. The music, the animation just everything about it is beautiful.

Subtle, yet masterful.

Noticed this particular piece on the Werehouse Forums last year, however, although I did view the short film promptly, I never took the time to respond to your thread as I intended. Alas, a full year has elapsed and it is the Christmas season once more, perfectly befitting the subject matter at hand.

The direction of this short animated film is subtle, elegant, and sophisticated. One can draw parallels to the Cinematography of Tarkovsky's films. The artwork is lovely, and the aesthetics of the film contrast with the philosophical themes. As lighthearted as the overall tone of this film is, there remains some very dark themes lurking in the depths. For example, I found the dream sequences very reminiscent to Jungian Dream Interpretations. The maturing skepticism of the boy is apparent in the subconscious. Is this a complex metaphor on societies' stance on the psychology of children? Perhaps, with the use of holidays and traditional folk stories, we are simplifying the minds of children into thinking the world is simple and can easily be explained. These folk etymologies serve as a summation of what is essentially a mystery, and in our kindheartedness we wish to give our children hope and optimism.

The Santa archetype perfectly illustrates our (Societal) good nature. He is cheerful, kind, and jolly. He is the symbol and manifestation of Christmastime. People dress up as him, not just to facilitate the façade, but to imbue his characteristics and spread the holiday cheer.

In a more modern perspective one can draw the conclusion that he is a pedophile or some Orwellian symbol of Totalitarianism. Is this valid or just paranoia? That may be too cynical for this film, I get the feeling that the Santa archetype is meant to be understood in his older more traditional sense.

The boy has his doubts. Although he remains optimistic, such as leaving cookies out, as is the custom, he still has his doubts. When he wakes up, and discovers that the cookies no longer remain, these doubts are assuaged. The eaten cookies symbolize hope for child-like innocence and the soft, tender worldview they assume.

Concerning the films' style, I think it has that otherworldly mysticism that characterizes the ambiance and tone of most holidays. The soft, warm architecture and the coziness and regalia that I always associate with the holidays. Very pleasant and very comfortable.

The brevity of the story does not concern me, it's the pacing of the shots that I find hasty. For example, when the dream sequence is established, it is implied very subtly and very quickly that it is indeed a dream. Of course, I caught this very quickly, however I would have enjoyed a few seconds of pause to fully appreciate this. I'm not suggesting that you make it obvious with some cliché technique, in fact I greatly appreciate your foresight as an artist to allow the audience to make that distinction using our intelligence, any gimmick would have been insulting. Also I think that many of the other shots may seem rushed and could have slightly longer takes. Though I suspect the tempo of the music may be involved with the hastiness of the shots.

In conclusion, I think this is a wonderful work of art. Thank you for your time.

Esn responds:

Thank you for taking so much time to write such a thorough analysis. This review is a bit embarrassing for me, to be honest. Tarkovsky is one of the greatest masters of cinema; I am nowhere close. But you clearly understood the themes I tried to convey without words, though the pedophile/totalitarianism angle was not on my mind at all. I don't know any pedophiles or totalitarians, so it's not something that I feel compelled to make art about. I don't mind too much if people interpret things their own way, of course...

Now that I'm somewhat removed from the making of this, I can see its more obvious flaws - the colours really are too dark, some scene transitions are unclear, and it moves a bit too quickly (though yes, this was determined by the music). If I make another film, I'll try not to make those mistakes again.


I love the style... You can Draw!!! i did find Santa's hand a bit on the creepy side... Lol I'm not normally a fan of Christmas movies but the style makes up for that!! Looks nice and clean... Can't wait to see more of your works in this style...

Esn responds:

Thank you for your review! To tell the truth, this particular art style was inspired very much by the music to which I made the film (although, of course, I looked for precedents in animation as well - most notably Norshteyn's "Good Night, Children" sequence (you can find it on Youtube) and arselap's "Dragonflight" which also used painted bitmaps for animation in Flash.

When I release another film, it will likely have a different art style, depending on what is needed for the story and mood.


I fucking love you man.
Just great. Unique style.

Esn responds:

Thanks! I guess you may not have expected this from someone who was excited about the pixel tool you used, huh? :) This is only one of the styles I like, though. It's just the only one I've made a film in so far.


I'm not going to give you any helpful feedback.