Funny, bizarre, and nicely photographed, Elefante, a Spanish short film from 2012, packs a dense and twisted story line into just under ten minutes, a perfect visual treat to break up your monotonous and meaningless work day.
Manuel is stuck at a dead-end job, has only one friend (that he doesn’t even like), and is completely ignored by his family. A persistent headache proves to be a symptom of a strange condition only seen twice before in the history of humankind: Manuel will become an elephant. This Kafkaesque turn of events will rid Manuel of his tedious job, his detestable friend, and draw the full attention of his once oblivious wife and children. For Manuel, a life that was once empty is suddenly full of meaning as he realizes that his greatest affliction might be his greatest gift.
The film is tonally complex, with moments that will both move and unnerve audiences. Though Manuel’s mutation is absurd, the inner loneliness and alienation that he feels rings true and compels sympathy. Excellent special effects make for a convincing, heartbreaking, and extraordinarily pensive beast of the wild. Voiceover narration quickly takes us through Manuel’s transition and gives us insight into his emotional strains.
The film boasts the collaboration of notable Spanish voice actors such as Jordi Brau, who is the mouthpiece to Manuel’s mind. Brau commonly dubs the performances of Tom Hanks and Sean Penn. There is also a cameo by Spanish TV anchor and voice actor Constantino Romero, who died shortly after the making of this film. Distinguished by his very low, masculine voice, some of Romero’s dub work includes James Earl Jones’s Darth Vader as well as voicing of Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The film was written and directed by the Catalan Pablo Larcuen. Not scared or put off by challenging and cerebral literary material, Larcuen adapted a short story by Boris Vian, which you can view here.