“The Kingdom of the Abyss”: the 3D underwater odyssey of a little girl in need of a mother

Ten years after his first feature film, Monkey King: Hero Is Back , an action and superhero film which ensured, the year of its release in 2015, the biggest success at the Chinese box office (and more than 140 million dollars, or 130 million euros, in revenue), director Tian Xiaopeng changes register and creates, this time, a phantasmagorical tale on the borders of reality and the unconscious of a little girl of 10 years. This being represented by the ocean depths, where sea monsters, strange creatures, flamboyant birds, chubby walrus, greedy otter, red ghost with viscous matter rub shoulders.

Presented in an event session at the Annecy Festival in 2023, The Kingdom of the Abysses takes us into a truly dizzying whirlwind where the four elements of nature intertwine, where colors blaze, vibrate and flow in long movements, where the Space and time merge. A whirlwind that the animation and soundtrack transform into a true sensory experience. We only regret not being always able to fully enjoy this enchantment – the fruit of remarkable work carried out on 3D whose hyperrealism merges here with the impressionism of Chinese ink painting.

This is due to the frantic pace of the film which shakes up the settings at great speed, carrying away a multitude of details which, for many, are replaced too quickly and escape us. The same goes for the argument of the film, stifled by an overflow of visual effects, actions and twists and turns. So much so that we let ourselves be carried away without fully understanding the point. Which will be delivered to us at the very end. A late revelation which prevented us from grasping all the nuances and depth of the story.

The story of the Kingdom of the Abyss tells us, in fact, much more than the underwater odyssey on which the heroine of the film, Shenxiu, finds herself embarked, a little girl who has been inconsolable since her mother left home several years ago. The typhoon that sucks him in during a family cruise and drags him to the bottom of the ocean actually opens the breach towards an inner world, that of consciousness, emotions and fantasies. The journey that Shenxiu undertakes, into the hollow of the wave populated by creatures, strewn with obstacles and dangers, is not reduced to a simple adventure, but describes the work of mourning, and the fight to which the little girl must submit. daughter to get out of the depression into which her mother’s departure caused her to sink.

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