Review: Matilda and the Spare Head (2020)

PÖFF Shorts
Best Children Animation

courtesy of Lithuanian Shorts

Is being smart and being knowledgeable the same thing? Is knowledge merely a bulk of memorized data? If not, then why do we say our kids are smart if they can memorize and reproduce the data they learn at school and at home? Ignas Meilunas’ Matilda and the Spare Head asks those questions, but also demystifies the institutions of school and family, the teachers and the parents in the form of highly likeable stop-motion animation for children.

After its premiere at Annecy earlier this year, Matilda and the Spare Head competed at PÖFF Shorts, where it was also awarded with the Best Children’s Animation prize.

While the boys and girls of her age play in front of the building, Matilda studies diligently under the close supervision of her mother. She is a model student and her teacher is impressed by the way she can repeat the textbook to the last comma and full stop. The downside of it is that her head is full, so she is unable to record any more data. Her mother buys her a new, spare one, but the data gets separated, making more of a mess, confusion and work both for Matilda and her mother. The real trouble ensues when the spare head gets misplaced somehow…

In Matilda and the Spare Head, Meilunas actually speaks to the grown up audience more than he does to the children, but he does it in such a gentle, warm and accessible way that it can be fun and educational also for the children. Blending the friendly-looking anthropomorphic clay models, stop-motion animation, light-weight humour and the appropriate sound design, voice acting and musical score, Meilunas gets his point across in a beautiful way.

Original title: Matilda ir atsargine galva
Year: 2020
Runtime: 13’ 09’’
Country: Lithuania
Language: Lithuanian
Directed by: Ignas Meilunas
Written by: Ignas Meilunas, Dangiras Bugas
Voice cast: Rusne Savickaite, Karolina Leicute, Dovile Šarutite
Cinematography by: Simonas Glinskis
Editing by: Ignas Meilunas
Music by: Rytis Koreniukas
Sound design by: Julius Grigelionis
Animated by: Ignas Meilunas, Anni Oja, Arnam Godia Montesinos
Colourist: Justinas Vencius
Produced by: Ignas Meilunas, Marija Razgute
Production company: M-Films