The Ocean Duck Image

The Ocean Duck

By Andrew Stover | September 26, 2022

Animation has always been a mode of storytelling that could reflect real themes in an abstract and distinctive manner, often in a way that live-action films are unable to achieve. Based on a poem in Rumi’s Masnavi, co-directors Huda Razzak and My Anh Ngo’s The Ocean Duck is an animated short about a granddaughter (Razzak) visiting her ailing grandmother (Jeed Saddy) in a hospital amid a disastrous storm.

Made with extreme care and devotion, the film tells an intimate and fantastical story of grief, memory, and healing. The plot begins in the past, with the grandmother telling her granddaughter Heba the tale of the Ocean Duck. The imaginative story revolves around a duck raised by chickens because the duck had forgotten that the ocean (serving as a symbol of everlasting life) is its natural home. “We are all ducks living like chickens,” says the grandmother, implying how we will all eventually find our way back.

“…granddaughter visiting her ailing grandmother in a hospital amid a disastrous storm.”

In the present, Heba is driving to the hospital. She is immediately flooded with memories of the past. The past and present interweave smoothly and purposefully, foregrounding the power of memory and how memory can be a fugacious form of healing. Gently paced and tenderly told, the emotional strokes of this animated short are substantial.

The Ocean Duck, written by Huda Razzak and Toby Osborne, is wonderfully toned-down, and beautifully animated in 2D. The past is woven with bright, gold colors as a younger Heba (Israa Zainab) enjoys spending time with her grandmother. The present, which takes place at a hospital during a dreary, tempestuous night, is bleaker in color and tone. The characters are befitted with expressive eyes, and the locations are finely drawn with good symmetry. In one particular shot, the hospital is positioned at the center as rain falls and fleecy clouds move.

Visually appealing and thematically compelling, The Ocean Duck is a powerful 6-minute journey through memory and grief that feels both personal and universal.

For screening information, visit the official website of The Ocean Duck.

The Ocean Duck (2022)

Directed: Huda Razzak, My Anh Ngo

Written: Huda Razzak, Toby Osborne

Starring: Huda Razzak, Israa Zainab, Jeed Saddy, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

The Ocean Duck Image

"…a powerful 6-minute journey through memory and grief..."

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