Nominated for Best Animated Short at the 90th Academy Awards, ‘Garden Party’ is a 7-minute French feature about frogs living in an abandoned mansion. I’m a sucker for a light-hearted film with a super dark twist, so I absolutely loved this.
The film is a visual masterpiece and demonstrates just how beautiful CG-animated films have become. Created as their graduation film by 7 students, ‘Garden Party’ is a technical delight. Their behind the scenes feature reveals that photo-realist techniques were used to make the characters and surroundings seem wonderfully life-like, a technique similar to those used the previous year for Disney’s “The Good Dinosaur”. The use of these beautiful techniques are starkly contrasted by the grisly story, which I’ll now go into. Watch the film first, because Spoilers lie ahead.
Events unfold as frogs and toads are seen taking over an abandoned mansion after a garden party seems to have gone awry. As the story progresses, we see more sinister events have occurred as bullet holes, smashed security cameras and destroyed property are shown. Then, in a truly disgusting reveal, the decayed body of a bloated ‘Se7en-esque glutton’ bubbles up to the surface of the pool, perhaps calling back to The Great Gatsby’s climax of Gatsby being left to die in his pool as his wealth falls into decay.
The film, on surface level, seems to have little meaning outside of its plot. However, one single shot may reveal a huge deeper meaning to the story.
At 05:18, a ‘Trump-like’ business magnate can be seen in a painting hanging skewed above a deserted dinner table. It is to be assumed that this was the owner of the house and the victim of the perpetrators, and this gives a darker political undertone to the film. Perhaps the film is making a statement about the state of America and the Republican Party. If the Trump comparisons are to be believed, then it’s not too far a tangent to suggest the film believes that the Republican Party – and therefore the United States – are currently run by toads, just as this deserted wealthy garden party is too. Toads have short, stout bodies and short legs, with dry and warty skin, and this could very easily describe the liberal media’s depiction of Trump.
The bleak soundtrack and lack of any human presence have a definite apocalyptic connotation, and maybe hint at the state of turmoil that could occur should an assassination attempt be made against the president. Ultimately, the film gives the Trumpian figure the least dignified death imaginable. Shot, decayed and floating in a pool of toads is a disgusting final image that is beautifully juxtaposed by the upbeat swinging song accompanying it.
Garden Party is a phenomenal piece of technical achievement that perfectly uses cutting edge technology and a simple, dark unfolding story to make a political statement while also massively entertaining the viewer.