I’ve never been good at riddles: those sort of problems that generally seem to involve cabbages, goats, boats and the like are utterly baffling.
So it was interesting to see one such riddle brought toile in such a beautiful, beguiling and psychedelic way by director Winnie Cheung, a Hong Kong-born, Queens-raised, Brooklyn based filmmaker who frequently collaborates with artists across various disciplines, using illustration, animation, and dance to “place the corporeal body within surreal spaces.”
Her recent film Albatross Soup scooped a Vimeo Staff Pick and tells a story based on the real-life riddle Albatross Soup, where one is asked "A man goes into a restaurant and orders albatross soup. After he eats, he goes outside and shoots himself. Why?"
Throughout the colourful, swirling animation and polyphony of voices garnered from interviews with more than 50 people trying to solve the riddle asking only answers that could be answered “yes” or “no”, the short uses a rapid-fire kaleidoscopic soundscape and god-like voice providing clues as to whether the guessers are along the right track.
A warning: things get pretty dark; though this is somewhat mitigated by the mesmerising, swirling animation style and lysergic rainbows of the visuals as the story unfurls.
“I knew instantly that this stream of consciousness guessing game would be the perfect premise for an animated short,” says Cheung. “Examining different creative approaches has been the driving force behind this project.”
We won’t give the game away—just watch it—but things are pretty disturbing, but in being so, incredibly beautiful.