In the wonderful world of cinema, there are many good films; some great ones; but only a few are special. Australian filmmaker Jonathan Nix's animated short film THE MISSING KEY, which was shown at this year's Sydney Film Festival, falls into the 'special' category. Nix is a director, screenwriter, animator and musician, and has won many Australian and international awards for his previous short films. THE MISSING KEY is the latest film that he has lovingly made over a number of years with just a small team.
The film is set in a beautifully re-imagined Venice of the early 1920s, where people have gramophone heads. A young composer called Hero Wasabi lives with Jacuzzi his loyal oboe-playing cat, and is in preparation for the upcoming Abacus Scroll music competition. But when his piano and composition are destroyed by a musical rival, the unscrupulous Count Telefino, Wasabi may be running out of time to write that winning melody.
THE MISSING KEY is a dazzling film. The animation is uniquely beautiful and art direction is simply fantastic. The music, composed by Nix, Miles Nicholas and Kathryn Brownhill, complements the visuals perfectly. The themes of friendship, rivalry and need to search deep for inspiration when things aren't going well resonate strongly. It certainly feels like a very personal film, and Nix has no doubt projected himself into the character of Wasabi. The film has a running time of 30 minutes, and before you know, it is over. One cannot help but feel a strong desire to see more, which is a sure sign that the film is special indeed.