Inspiration from Animated Inuit Folktale “From Darkness”
First-time guest writer, Ariel Chan, shares her thoughts on Cartoon Saloon’s animated Inuit folktale, From Darkness (2002), and why it’s important in today’s day and age.
While I was browsing through Cartoon Saloon’s website, I came across some of their featured short films. You may recognize Cartoon Saloon for developing and producing The Secret of Kells, which I have just seen, and it was brilliant (you can also check it out on Netflix).
The short film I watched while exploring Cartoon Saloon was From Darkness, which was directed by Nora Twomey.
“Based on an Inuit folktale, From Darkness tells the story of a lonely fisherman who drifts into haunted waters in search of food and finds much more than he bargained for.” ~Cartoon Saloon
At first, I was terrified to watch, because I’m not really into the skeleton, scary, horror sort of film, but when I saw that it was based on an Inuit folktale, I was interested. And I’m glad I watched it. The ending kept me on edge, and it was really unexpected. (Cheers to Nora Twomey and company!)
Folklore & Myths
So what got to me was that it was a folktale, an Inuit folktale nonetheless. From my list of inspirations, folklore and myths have a big impact on my work and research. I love getting into my research in mythology. When I find something interesting, I’ll be looking through link after link in Wikipedia, until I stumble upon something with potential I can give life to in my work. My long term project that’s been in writing and rewritings for about 2 years, has a large amount of King Arthur references. And I wasn’t looking at the basic sword-in-the-stone-story that we’ve grown up and loved.
The Sword in the Stone – King Arthur
It didn’t take me long to figure out the original legend of King Arthur to be so complicated! There were numerous subplots of not just King Arthur, but of his knights, his wife, etc. The original tales were more mature with its many twists and turns. Probably more than the Game of Thrones. I can go on and on about how crazy King Arthur was, but the bottom line is, there is so much to be offered from the stories of old. Have you looked at the original tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, etc? All of those old fairy tales were so much darker and complex. I can understand why many artists today trend in illustrating Brothers Grimm stories in the most twisted, dark, and even romantic of sorts in pop culture. Even I have a taste of it if you’ve seen my short animation Returning Red. But again, these are fairy tales. What about myths like in From Darkness?
Retelling Old Stories
Myths and folklore are no different. Except, I believe they hold much more… not exactly credibility, but more weight to them. Myths exist because people believed they were once true. Every culture, every race of people, there are stories of creation, of morals, and of the very fundamentals of life. It’s incredible. Storytelling is what kept these histories of myths alive. We’ve learned from these stories, and we keep coming up with innovative ways to retell them to future generations.
Insight Into Other Cultures
I really enjoyed From Darkness because it gave me insight into another culture. I don’t know much about the Inuit, let alone heard of them. I love learning about other cultures, especially if I can learn about them from film, books, and comics. A classmate of mine from my comics class made his comic zine centering around an aging Indian woman and a djinn fairy as they contemplate the decline of old traditions in Indian culture. One of my favorite manga, A Bride’s Story by Kaori Mori takes place in the 19th century along the Silk Road. The themes explored in this manga is the importance and complexity of marriage and family ties in the cultural tribes of the Silk Road. Both of these comics are beautifully drawn with compelling story writing about history.
To conclude, here’s a minor tangent: in From Darkness, some people on Youtube argued in the comments of whether or not there are Biblical allusions. A part of me feels, should it really matter? I’m Christian, but I didn’t see anything past the film’s initial story, much less a Biblical reference. All I saw was a suspenseful story with an unexpected, sweet ending. After reading some comments, I understood why they made a connection, but I don’t think we need to look at the film any further than the way it is presented.
All in all, I enjoyed it very much and I would love to read about the full Inuit legend one day 🙂 So keep exploring history, folklore, and keep Grandpa’s stories to heart. You never know what treasures lie within them.