Terry Gilliam-eque: The animation of polemical short film Cosmico

Director C.J. Lazaretti’s latest short film Cosmico sees a jaded aristocrat literally feed off the world’s major religions: crucifixes are set on fire and pages are torn from the Quran. Animated similarly to the rustic cutouts of Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python work, Lazaretti’s short takes swipes at Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism.

Needless to say, the film has polarised audiences, receiving an award and nominations at European animation festivals yet being booed at a screening in Bethnal Green, where the film was made, and where until recently director Lazaretti was living. Have people taken it too seriously?

Says Lazaretti: “We’ve gone beyond being easily offended. These days, people go out of their way to find offence in anything they see or hear.”

Talking about controversial film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, Lazaretti declares: “I agree with Pasolini when he says that to scandalise is a right, and that to be scandalised is a pleasure.”

Cosmico is funny and short, but not as offensive as audiences have claimed. Coming in at just over three minutes in length, it feels slight – not just in terms of running time, but in terms of content too. The animation and sound production is unique, but the film could have benefitted from being a few minutes longer to develop its ideas.

Lazaretti originally intended the film to be played on a loop. “Before I made Cosmico, I had a vague idea for a short film that could be played like a loop, inspired a bit by David Lynch’s Lost Highway,” he said. “I mulled it over for a while, simplifying the concept as much as I could.”

Cosmico is a promising short film, with great visuals, music and style, which the director would do well to expand on.

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