Animation Features Live Action Movies

(Smok Diplodok)

Director – Wojtek Wawszczyk – 20234 – Poland – 84m


A young diplodocus must save the comic book in which he lives from being erased by the artist who created – from the 2024 Annecy International Animation Festival in the Annecy Presents section

Animation. A bookworm (English voice: Wayne Greyson; Polish voice: Tadeusz Baranowski) appears, a “respected devourer of picture stories”. His function is not exactly that of a Greek chorus, more like a comic interlude who occasionally wanders into the narrative as light relief, to leaven the whole. Not that this likeable romp, is any need of leavening, but it’s a nice touch which nicely sets the tone for the whole piece. It’s about characters in a comic book whose very existence is threatened by the originating artist’s run-in with his commercially driven but artistically clueless lady publisher.

Beyond a vast, bubbling, primeval swamp in a crater, an inventive and adventurous, male diplodocus child (English voice: Julian Wanderer; Polish voice: Mikołaj Wachowski), Diplodocus as the credits calls him, nicks snails off a frog to use as climbing suckers. A butterfly flies past. Diplodocus gets sent to his room by his essentially conservative parents (English voices: Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, Marc Thompson; Polish voices: Monica Pikuła, Grzegorz Pawlak) for wanting a life of adventure.

Meanwhile, in the evening, in the real, live action world, the male artist (Piotr Polak) drawing the comic book of the prehistoric world we’ve visited is berated by his female publisher (Helena Englert) who doesn’t want to see him waste his talent on “ugly lizards”. In fact, she wants a cute character that will be easily marketable by 9am the next day, and makes the task easy for him by leaving him a typical image of a cute character to plagiarise, no creativity required. And would he please erase all that artwork for the prehistoric world?

So, he gets to work on the artwork with his trusty eraser. Back in the animated world of his comic book, Diplodocus’ parents are erased into whiteness before Diplodocus falls out of his own world into another which is populated by trumpet-like plants, and from there finds himself on Planet Fear, watching an audition for a wizards’ contest in which a contestant turns a beatbox into… a mouse. This particular wizard, the self-styled Lord Hocus Pocus (English voice: Marc Thompson; Polish voice: Borys Szyc), turns out not to be very good at magic, unable to perform any spells other than turning people into mice. This fate befalls his parents (English voices: Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld again, Marc Thompson again; Polish voices: Agnieska Matysiak, Borys Szyc again) in a flashback.

The diplodocus and the wizard are rescued from a desert wasteland by a flying, red, metal sphere, the spaceship of one Prof. Nervekowsky (English voice: Mike Pollock; Polish voice: Arcadiusz Jakubik) and his wife Entomology (English voice: Rachel Butera; Polish voice: Małgorzata Kożuchowska). The professor captures a bucketful of the encroaching blankness, and analysing it learns that it relates to a great single power. But can our four heroes stop the artist erasing their world, or talk him out of the idea, before it’s too late?

The narrative is enjoyable enough, flitting between intermittent live action and (for most of the film) animation, striking a good balance between the two media. The scattershot approach to gags works well too, with enough always going on at any one time to hold the audience’s attention in terms of either humour or inventiveness.

Nervekowsky has a scientific technique for using one object of a pair to locate its partner, a strategy he successfully demonstrates to find the missing sock that matches the one he’s just put on. His ship, out of control, knocks the nose off the sphinx. In his bid to create a cute character, the artist inadvertently creates a world of cute, singing onions (English voices: Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld yet again, X; Polish voices: Monica Pikuła again, Strasburger Zona). A donkey (English voice: Bill Timoney; Polish voice: Mariusz Szczygiel) sits at a desk, philosophising.

A white, rectangular sun known as the Bermuda Rectangle turns out to be the underside of the artist’s drawing board on which he creates his comic book worlds. And travel is possible for Diplodocus, within the multiverse comprising the artist’s various comic book worlds,

It may not be the most cutting edge slice of cinema or animation you’ve ever seen, but it knows what it’s doing, juggles its various constituent parts nicely and serves up an enjoyable viewing experience for children and adults alike.

This review is of the English language dubbed version of the film, which is reasonably good: there is also a Polish dubbed version, for which the credits have been added in this review, since the credits for both versions appear on the film print. In both versions, a number of actors voice more than one role. Tadeusz Baranowski, the Bookworm in the Polish dub, who also appears as a grandfather character in the live action, is the artist who created the original comics on which the film is based.

Diplodocus plays in the Annecy Presents section of the 2024 Annecy International Animation Festival which took place from Sunday 9th to Saturday 15th Jun.


Festival Trailer:

Festival Poster Trailer:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *