Topic: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

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The River

Vimeo (HD)

I wrote the script for this back in May and June, and filmed for almost two weeks straight in July.

A lot of people have asked me about the plot. The truth is that while individual events aren't vague (for example, the natives are my imagining of the North American mound culture), the entire film isn't really supposed to have a definite "truth" to it, let alone have a meaning or message. It certainly isn't religious, though I think I wanted it to have a certain mystical quality to it.

There were a lot of different influences for this; I think some of the strongest were Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line, Werner Herzog's Aguirre, The Wrath of God, and Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man.

Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

This is one of my favorites in the contest.  The cinematography looks fantastic, I think you did a good job of emulating the look of film as you had intended without taking it too far.  The colors throughout were all really nicely controlled and gave it a warm, filmy look.  The shifting focus in some shots was a nice touch, I might not have minded a little wider range of focus from time to time but it did give the film a dream-like quality.  The titles and credits also help create the indie film look.

The music was effective, it added to the atmosphere without being distracting, a good impression of some of the music you mentioned had inspired you in this film.

As far as the concept, I liked that you took the theme in a very different direction from other entries in the contest, I think the theme was clear but creatively interpreted here.

Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

This is a tie with Cylic for my personal favorite of the entries (or at least the ones I've seen thus far).

When I read the script, I thought the concept and plot had a lot of potential, but I was wondering how well a film like this would translate to LEGO. I thought you did it beautifully. The cinematography was fantastic, as usual. At some points, I felt like you went a bit trigger-happy with the soft focus, but in context of the film, it still works well. As Smeagol mentioned, the shifting focus in the river shots was a very nice touch, like he was fading in and out of a dream. There was a very mystic feeling to the musical score, which I think added to the general mood of the film. I also like the sense of ambiguity to it, and you're right, a concept like this doesn't deserve to have a definite meaning or ending to it, the way this film handled it just felt right.

Overall, a superb film, Nik. Oh, and nice use of stegosaurus.

Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

The River - Night Owl

Wow, this was very different. Absolutely gorgeous film, Nikolas. I was expecting a lot, and you certainly delivered. At the same time, I can't help but think that some of your films would work so much better in live action. It's really amazing to me that you managed to pull something like this off with LEGO. Beautiful work.

- Leo

Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

The first time I watched this, I was a little confused, but the second time I really enjoyed it.  Obviously your cinematography was very nice, and there was some cool lighting.  Very mystical and dreamy, I really liked it.

Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

The filming here is beautiful. Very reminiscent of Apocalypse Now... When the boat moves into the "whiteness", I couldn't help but scoff that this is just a journey into the "Heart of Lightness". The music is well done and, better yet, used to great effectiveness. I appreciate the experimentation with soft focus: focus is usually neglected as a cinematographic tool in brickfilms because everyone is eager to get a perfectly crisp image. Still, it distracts me a little. I watched the youtube version.

I will have to contemplate the plot for a while. I really enjoyed the film but I did feel as if maybe it was reaching for more breadth and detail than can be illustrated in seven minutes. The ambiguity amplifies this.

Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

It's odd you should be pointing out the focus; it's not something I specifically was thinking about much; I was using 35mm lenses and I had to shoot at an open aperture in order to avoid tedious shutter speeds, particularly in the campfire scenes when I was only using tealight candles for illumination.

Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

When I first watched this I immediately thought: Terrence Malick pastiche. mini/yes
This is possibly the most interestingly captivating lego animation I've ever seen. I love the fact that instead of making a "Lego Animation" you made a live action film using stop motion and lego bricks, if you know what I mean.
I'm not usually a big fan of Brickfilms in general, but if this is the direction people are going to take them, then you can count me in. Instantly my favourite Brickfilm. Seriously.
Please continue to make more, Nik.

Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

This film is one of the very few that stand out among the brickfilm world. It has a mystical effect to it, and it was not your average storyline. It is a strong film, which one might have to watch a few times to really get it.

Spoiler (click to read)

One thing I don't think many people see, is that the main theme of the film is reality, not time. It show how we are just a small speck of time, and not as great as we think we are.

It used the right amount of light, effects and the animation was superb. This defiantly will join Grace, Beast and other great brickfilms in our glorious history.

Last edited by D.J.M. (August 30, 2009 (05:32am))

You can do anything, just have fun while doing it.

Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

This is just amazing,this contest has thrown up some of the best brickfilms I have ever seen!
I can't say anything more than what everyone else has said,it's just amazing!


Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

Keshen wrote:

When I first watched this I immediately thought: Terrence Malick pastiche. mini/yes

Malick is amazing! Any resemblance to his work is entirely intentional.

I have to say that I don't know whether I'll be making brickfilms of this length in the future because of college and all, but I'll definitely do something from time to time. Plus, I'm dying to work more in live-action, which I will definitely be doing, hopefully even working with 16mm at some point.

Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

I missed the ending during the premiere, so it great to watch it a few times. The opening scene was epic so I was expecting a bit more that figs standing in the rain at the end. Cinematography was spectatular for a brickfilm. Very nice work you'll win for sure.


Other:  DOTBW      Take Out      Crime Stories      Cyclic     YouTube

Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

This wide box I am writing my message in reminds me of the wide screen in "the River".

Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

Well said, Robukka.

That was excellent, Night Owl. One of the best brickfilms in a while.

Spoiler (click to read)

Yay for time-traveling boats.

Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

Well you certainly didn't disappoint.  Excellent work.  I love the tight shots with out of focus elements.

Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

Wow. I think I'm the only one on here that actually has some criticism for this film... oh well. Please don't take this in a bad way, Night Owl. I just think that at least someone should step up to the plate and bring some reality to this thread.

Spoiler (click to read)

I must say, when I read that The River didn't have a defined "message" or "meaning", I was a bit skeptical about watching this. Rightly so. The plot, while interesting, not only doesn't have a defined meaning, it also doesn't have a defined character. Who is this guy? Who are they fighting? Who was the lady with the turban? I mean, come on. Can you be a little more vague, lol? Maybe that's it.... You were trying to be vague. I guess that was the "REALITY" part, huh?

This film is just too much style over substance, IMHO. I mean the visuals are fantastic; many shots I found myself drooling over. But is that what should hold up a film? Sure, it's a brickfilm, so it doesn't have to have an amazing storyline, but at least make it coherent. The contest says it primarily judges on storytelling, presentation, and use of the theme. I don't think it will do well on two counts, but the presentation is nice. Also the rules say no adult language. hmm...

Also, I think you went overboard with the tight focus. Some of the shots were barely, if not at all, in focus. I know it's hard to focus with a DSLR, so I guess I'll forgive you on that one.

Again, don't think that I'm a nitpick. I'm really not. I agree with most of the things that the people are praising about. And I agree that it is one of the most well made brickfilms that I've seen. If only it had a stronger story, this one would have a good chance of being my favorite brickfilms. As it is though, it will have to take its' place lower on my list.


Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

That was outstanding, and probably my favorite of the entries. What I found most fascinating about it was the strong mood created. As HT pointed out, it's mainly style with little substance, but I'm fine with that when it's style like this. That said, I think a film with this kind of powerful atmosphere and a slightly more coherent story would be better yet.

Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

High Tower, I'm pretty sure you figured out a lot of this already, but I guess I don't mind explaining more, not because I think you didn't get it but because I would like to present my viewpoint.

The film is set during the Civil War; I thought it would be fairly clear by the uniforms and weapons, as well as by the conversation at the beginning. I don't think everyone heard the dialogue, since it was rather quiet compared to the music preceding it. I considered putting a "1864" card at the beginning but didn't really feel that it would fit. I sort of hoped that the succession of people the man encounters on the shoreline would indicate that he is going into the past. I think most people picked up on that part, but I won't deny that I do sort of demand a lot of the viewer.

It's true that the film is deliberately vague, but it was really because I wanted to create a film that, like 2001 in my mind, essentially would awe the audience with an experience they couldn't quite comprehend. I consider this to be a type of storytelling as well, and I think that the reason that some people have been confused is because they were looking for things in the film (a tangible plot, a resolution) that aren't there. It's something that has happened to me before while watching movies, so I'm fairly well aware of it myself.

As for the language; I don't consider blasphemy to be adult language, though I know it will offend some. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on that.

Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

As you said, I already figured out most of the story. I knew that he was going back in time, the stegosaurus tying it all together. As for the army, I figured it was either Union soldiers fighting Confederates, or if it was after The War Between the States and they were fighting Indians. A title card showing 1864 would have worked, but one view of the enemy would have sufficed. Also the preacher was a little random.

Like I said, these are nitpicks. The film is amazing, and you should be proud of it. It held my interest, and despite some focus issues, the cinematography was flawless.

Great job, and I wish you well in the contest!


Re: STAR: The River (now in HD!)

Sorry for the bump, but I have to review this one.

The River By Nikolas Jaeger
When I first watched at the prmiere, I thought "Well, this should be entertaining.". Little did I know. This film completely blew me away. From the very first shot, which looked absolutely gorgeous, this is without a doubt my favorite STAR entry. Great cinematography and great animation. A little... wierd plot, though.
But this film has entertained me from the beginning to the end, leaving me very satisfied. A great achievement that already is nothing less then the best film of the year. You have a talent for great cinematography, Nik.


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