RTVE.es offers you the trailer of the film for the first time Unicorn Warsof Alberto Vazquez (A Coruna, 1980). A powerful anti-war statement that is one of the most anticipated titles at the Annecy Animated Film Festival, where its world premiere will be held this Thursday, June 16. Especially since in 2020 Alberto already won the special jury prize with his short Homeless Home. A film that has the participation of RTVE and that will be released in theaters on November 21.
Alberto Vázquez is already in Annecy where the film could win one of the awards: “After more than six years working on Unicorn Wars I hardly believe that we are finally done and we are going to celebrate the world premiere at this festival, which has always welcomed us very well and has always selected my films. We are very happy because it is the place where we, the animation directors, are important”.
“Besides,” he adds, the film is a co-production with Franceso there is always more expectation, more French and international press… So we are very happy”.
Definitely, Unicorn Wars it is the best work of Vázquezwhich has three Goyas (for Birdboy, Psychonauts Y Decorated), and who defines it this way: “It is a kind of fable without a moral. Because I don’t really want to convey any message, but provoke emotions and conflicts in the viewer and leave them a bit in shock”.
“I like to provoke the viewer -he continues-, but not to provoke to provoke, but to invite you to reflect on things such as physical and psychological violence, ecology, family wars… Although there is not only that external war, between unicorns and bears, but there is also an internal war in the characters “
“In general –he concludes- to me I am interested in talking about social justice, about the origin of war and how these armed conflicts only lead us to destruction”.
“I could never have imagined that it would coincide with a real war”
The film tells the story of two bear brothers, Azulín and Gordi, who are recruited and trained to fight in the war the bears wage against the unicorns, those who have an ancestral hatred. But, in addition, both brothers are also opposed by the love of their mother.
Alberto assures that when the film began, six years ago, he never imagined that it could coincide with a real war, like the one in Ukraine: “I thought that such a war, as traditional, belonged to another era, or that it could not happen in Europe where we felt safe. But that sentiment has radically changed.”
Although the film’s anti-war message is welcome at the moment, Alberto confesses that: “I wasn’t amused that it coincided, because it gives me quite a bad energy. But it is also true that the film now has other readings, because It is an anti-war fable that speaks of the common origin of all wars. In other words, the bears live in a very militarized and religious society where they greatly control public opinion and they are obsessed with recovering a territory, in this case the magical forest, which they consider to belong to them almost by divine right. And that is a bit the origin of all wars”.
“But –he continues-, although the film revolves around that external war between bears and unicorns, the story that interests me the most is that of the rivalry between those two brothers who are in conflict for the love of their mother. And I really like how these two wars, the external one and the internal or family one, intersect to resolve themselves in a common place, which is a great final battle”.
In the last Quirino Awards, Cello Loureiroproducer of Unicorn Wars, told us that he was not amused that the leader of the bears could remember Putin. “They don’t look alike at all,” says Alberto. The only thing they have in common is that need to conquer a territory, which in the end is the origin of all wars. That violent and destructive nature is one of the negative parts of the human being and we reflect it in the film, which seeks to impact and make viewers reflect on violence.”
For this reason, at one point in the film he also denounces that wars have become a business for some. “I think that the militarized society that the bears have is maintained thanks to the interest in war. A war that maintains the economy and power, as is the case today. There are many countries that are interested in having wars and that even promote them. Like the one in Ukraine, with which it seems that we have returned to the times of the Cold War. Because both Russia and the United States do not want to lose their geopolitical or geomilitary power. We’ll see how this war ends.”
The origin of evil
Another of the most powerful themes of the film is its search for the origin of evil, through those twin bears. “One of the brothers feels more loved than the other,” Alberto tells us. And that’s why they have a rivalry, almost since they were in their mother’s womb”.
“One of them represents good and that is why it is quite noble and innocent. -Add-. While the other is the opposite, It is a being that represents a bit of evil, cruelty… Because I was also interested in showing how two people from the same family, who have been raised in the same socioeconomic environment, can be so different from each other. To find out what the origin of that evil is, if you are born with it or if you develop it”.
A duality that is also manifested in the film between the masculine and violent (the bears) and the feminine (those unicorns that represent nature and are female) “It’s a film of contrasts Alberto tells us. Starting because the bears seem adorable and then they are quite cruel and violent. While the unicorns, which look like dark demons, completely black, are the representation of nature.
“Besides –he continues-, bears destroy and unicorns create. The little bears want to destroy the unicorns and the forest they live in while the unicorns live to take care of nature. That is why all forest animals are female. There is no allusion to masculinity. While the little bears live in a completely masculinized military and religious society. I wanted to play with very powerful contrasts that would reinforce the fundamental concepts of the film”.
“’Unicorn Wars’ is a mix of ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘Bambi’ and the ‘Bible’”
if the movie Psychonauts (Alberto Vázquez, Pedro Rivero, 2015) arose from a graphic novel and the short bird boy (2012), this Unicorn Wars born from another short film by Alberto Vázquez: Unicorn blood (2013). “Short films make sense in themselves – she says. But in both cases I was left wanting to tell more things and the stories ended up maturing over time. This universe was born in a short story that I did in comics 14 years ago, later I developed it in that short, which was done in pencil and watercolor and was much looser, more artistic. But when I finished it I was left wanting more, because the idea seemed good to me”.
“That is why -he adds-, I decided to combine my universe as an author with war and epic films, which I am passionate about, and with mystical and religious stories. I mixed those three things and that’s how it came out Unicorn Wars. I always say that this movie isIt’s a mix between Apocalypse Now, Bambi and the Bible”.
“Bears and unicorns are icons of our childhood”
As for why he has chosen bears and unicorns as protagonists, Alberto assures that: “Pbecause they are icons that refer to stories, fables, parables, children’s series… They are icons of our childhood, which are very beautiful. And the film also has a very beautiful point with those wooded landscapes, the colors… I think you can talk about real and current problems, such as violence, from that metaphor of fantastic worlds. And I think that also gives him an original and very particular point of view. And I am interested in my works having their own personality”.
Highlight the beauty of that magical forest in which the film takes place. “Nature is very important to me. I live in a spectacular area of Galicia and I love to escape whenever I can to do routes. I am also influenced by the landscapes, the light… I think there are many things from Galicia in the film and also from the Basque Country, where I have traveled a lot during production”.
“But apart from that, he adds, he also wanted that conflict zone was like a kind of imaginary Vietnamwhere the little bears had to survive in extreme conditions, facing wild animals and diseases”.
“That forest and its colors -he adds-, are fundamental in the film and reflect the emotions of the characters. At first the forest is lush and full of colors and the bears seem to be going to a picnic more than to a war, but as the conflict intensifies and the characters fight or get sick, the colors become more saturated, becoming colder and grayer. . The color and the landscape are in line with the feelings of the protagonists”.
“In Galicia there is a lot of talent for animation”
Annecy will also host the premiere of another co-production between Spain, France and Portugal: ‘My Grandfather’s Demons (You demons do me avô), directed by the Portuguese Blessed Nuno. “I am delighted that there is another film with Galician participation in Annecy Alberto assures. I’ll go see her at the pass. In Galicia there have always been good animation studios and now we are left with three or four production companies doing things. The problem is that the very long periods of animation production are not considered. Unicorn Wars It has taken almost six years to complete. Perhaps we are more like video game studios than film studios”.
“The good thing about animation –he adds-, is that it generates a lot of jobs. In this movie, which It has cost three million euros, a low budget for this type of productions, about 250 people have worked. But it is necessary to invest a lot in animation for it to be a national industry like in France. It’s a bit what happens with comics as well.”
“For this reason –concludes the director-, co-producing with France helps us to complement the budget and also to move the French media, which pay us more attention. And to better distribute the film around the world. Unicorn Wars We have already sold it to Japan and the United States., two fundamental countries for animation. And all this with a film made in two small studios from A Coruña and Bilbao. That’s why we’re very happy.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.