People have been telling the same stories with occasional twists and turns here and there since we could first communicate and entertain. What’s changed over time is the medium. The methods we use to tell our stories and the forms that result from those methods. Manual Cinema’s Lula del Ray strikes me as another refinement of this trend. A coming-of-age story told through the manipulation of projected shadows, the piece draws inspiration from various other forms of storytelling to create its own, stunning niche.
The story of Lula is told through cinematic ‘shots’ including close-ups, wide shots, transitional effects and frame wipes. Live music plays alongside recorded music, analogous to a movie soundtrack but also integral to the iteration of the story itself. Live actors walk and gesture in front of the screen in a stylized manner creating a narrative from movement and gesture. What is live looks odd but translates to the screen so vividly.
Perhaps the most striking element is the potential influence of video games. The use of silhouette to tell this story and the side-scrolling nature of many of the shots harkens to the indie gaming industry. The stylistic nature of Lula del Ray is reminiscent of games such as Limbo or BADLAND wherein silhouetted characters journey through hardship toward their goals. Even other games that don’t necessarily have the silhouetted art style still maintain a similarity in style of movement and overall mood created through the combination of the forms.
Manual Cinema’s Lula Del Ray is unique in the way that it uses the familiar together to create something new. It’s inspiring to think of what we can accomplish just by shifting the puzzle pieces of art around to see how they might fit differently.