Welcome to Animation Globe where HeadStuff’s animation expert Joseph Learoyd analyses films of the form from around the world. This entry is on 2022 Norwegian animation Titina.
Titina is a 2022 animated film set at the North Pole, and is a tale of rivalry and friendship from Norwegian director Kajsa Naess. It tells the true story of Umberto Nobile, Roald Amudsen and Umberto’s dog, Titina, who set out on an expedition to discover the North Pole, until then, a vastly unexplored area. Nobile is an airship engineer and Amundsen is an explorer, and we get to see their stories unfold through the eyes of their canine companion. This is fresh as we get to see a new and interesting perspective on a previously known story creating a somewhat more lighthearted approach to a story full of difficulties and tragedy.
The characters in Titina are relatable and have a strong depth of characterisation. The choice to see the events unfold through the perspective of Titina, only serves to draw the viewer into an atmosphere of emotional beauty. The animation itself is full of gorgeous scenery and despite the tale taking place in a vast snow-covered nothingness, it manages to depict a beautiful atmosphere through its historical context. We see Titina meet Nobile in Rome before accompanying the explore Amundsen on his journey, complete with stunning colours and simple, yet fluid, animation that really makes this film feel like an artistic venture in cinema. An impressive film all around, Naess does a great job of setting up the shots before delivering the emotional impacts, allowing for the themes to resonate longer with the audience and allowing us to ponder on the thoughts it poses. We see a study into the strength of humans, but also the danger that the world poses. And while we may think we are seeing this unfold through the perspective of a somewhat oblivious character, Titina is more aware of emotion than we often realise.
Naess gives us characters that are not only well designed but are three dimensional due to their choices, making them feel very human. If I was to criticise the film in any way, it would be in the overall length and pacing of the piece. There were times where it felt as though both the story and the emotional context had slowed down to a snail’s pace, making it feel noticeably tiring in places and dragging me out of the story. That said, what it does well, it really does well, reminding me of the stunning Where is Anne Frank and Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist in its animation choices and depictions of realism through beauty. We are taken on a journey that captures our hearts and looks at self-discovery, heroism and ego whilst seeing Titina as a character of her own, not just an outsider looking in, and the clear effects that she has on the rest of the expedition team.
The character poses are strong and dynamic and the music and voices fit excellently with the themes and designs. Overall, it is just a well made piece of animation. Is it ground-breaking? No, but it does provide a new perspective on an interesting and powerful piece of history as well as a study into ourselves, looking at the contrasting goals of our lead characters and how that affects the story. These characters have their own flaws and that is what makes them believable, likeable and watchable. As written earlier, there are indeed pacing issues but if you can overcome that, there is a sense of wonder and exploration in Titina, that will capture your heart throughout. It is a shame that this film isn’t more well known, overshadowed, like many European animated films by the big budget animated giants in America, yet it is worth your time, if only to see the visual beauty it has to offer.