Set in Pictish times and created in a palette of soft, soothing colours that perfectly capture the singular light of a winter sun, this fairy tale shows the quiet desperation of a man and his daughter when Spring seems to have forgotten to arrive. Their hope lies in the Burry Man, a leaf clad creature who heralds Spring but who is nowhere to be found. Borra (voiced by John McLarnon) who believes that the Burry Man is asleep in a tree trunk, chooses to appease the creature in the old way by sacrificing their faithful hielan cou, Murdo, but his daughter Kelli (voiced by Orla Bayne) has other ideas.
Following his big green footprints, Kelli sets out across the snow to find the Burry Man herself, and save the farm. He is in fact being held captive in the verdant hut of an ugly, greedy bearskin wearing man who lives surrounded by a sumptuous rosy harvest of fruits, whose warm tempting colours contrast lusciously with the forest’s white shroud. As thanks for his release, the Burry Man makes his own sacrifice for Kelli and Borra who can now look forward with hope to this imminent and future Springs.
This short but captivating animation has its world premiere as part of the McLaren Animation Shorts Programme 1 in this year’s Shorts and Animation strand of the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF). The animation method uses a mixture of CGI and traditional pen and paper techniques where figures are outlined sharply and cleanly and with a pleasing signature criss-cross texture on surfaces. The figures’ movements are beautifully crafted and the film, that’s full of sophisticated camera angles, has the delightful look of a story book come to life. Add the gentle and delicate soundtrack music involving the harp from Giles Lamb and you have a visual and sonic treat with a hopeful environmental message.
Written and directed by Simon P Biggs, whose previous film WIDDERSHINS (2018) also received its world premiere at ElFF in 2018 before going on to be screened worldwide and to win twelve awards, The Burry Man was screened at the Cameo on Saturday 13th August as part of the EIFF McLaren Shorts Animation 1 programme, and will be judged for the McLaren Award for Best British Animation 2022.