Moon of a Sleepless night (2015) Japanese film – Powerful

In Moon of a Sleepless night, A boy, along with the Moon squirrel, set out on a journey together to restore daylight by setting free the Moon, stuck high up on a tree. How they achieve it forms the film's 27-minute screenplay.

‘Moon of a Sleepless night’, a Stop Motion Animation by Yashiro Takeshi, is not as emotionally triggering as his ‘Gon, the little fox’. However, the film is unique and engaging in the way it is made and the innocence the characters reflect on the screen.

In Moon of a Sleepless night, A boy, along with the Moon squirrel, set out on a journey together to restore daylight by setting free the Moon, stuck high up on a tree. How they achieve it forms the film’s 27-minute screenplay. 

What is Stop Motion animation?

Stop Motion animation is a form of animation where the characters are molded in the real-time and captured step by step. The entire setting is created physically on a small scale, and the characters are then placed in the created setting. The camera captures the stills of the action one frame at a time. The characters are then moved step by step and captured frame by frame. Sounds familiar? Check out this article to know more about Stop Motion Animation. 

As you guessed, this is exactly how a camera works. In the days of the film, each frame is captured on a portion of the film, moving forward. Now the next frame is captured on the newly exposed film, and the process goes on. While playing back, the frames captured in the film are run at the rate of 24 frames per second. Thus our eyes see the moving pictures as a single break less motion. A video gets formed in front of our eyes. 

In stop motion animation, the same is achieved through non-living objects. Instead of using computer graphics to design a character, they are physically molded and placed in a scene. They are then moved one step at a time by a human hand. Every step is recorded on a camera. They are played back at 24 frames/steps per second to obtain the final movie. 

Moon of a Sleepless night – Story

On a moonless night, a boy is unable to get to sleep. When he reaches out to his parents, they tell him the tale of how the Moon gets stuck high up on trees and increases the night time and disturbs the sleep of the people. The boy is amused after hearing this. His father suggests a walk to see if they could find the Moon. The boy is excited. He gets ready for the hike. His father silently conveys to his wife that a little walk would tire their son to sleep. 

As they go about the night, the boy indeed gets tired. After a while, he yawns while resting on a bench. His father then points him towards a bright light from the sky. The Moon is set free, and hence the boy feels sleepy. On their way back, his father explains how the rabbits in the Moon help it set free whenever it gets stuck in a tree. The boy gets a peaceful sleep.

The moon squirrel

The next day, they have a visitor at their home. A squirrel knocks on their door and asks for a place to rest. It further informs them that it is the ‘Moon Squirrel’, and its job is to free the Moon from the trees whenever it gets stuck in one. Surprised, the boy argues that there is only a moon rabbit and not a moon squirrel. The squirrel acknowledges that people have a misconception on this and that it is indeed a ‘Moon squirrel’. The boy gives an unsatisfied nod.

Moon of a sleepless night
Moon of a sleepless night – Photo © – Explorers Japan Ltd.

That evening the squirrel sets on a journey to relieve the Moon as the evening never seemed to end. The boy volunteers to join him. Despite repeated warnings from his mother, he prepares himself to accompany the squirrel. The squirrel doesn’t mind his company. So, they set on a journey to find the Moon and set it back on track. Did they find the Moon and set it free? The remaining film answers the question.

A wholehearted applause

What I loved about the film, ‘Moon of a sleepless night’ is the hard work that went behind its making. There is a short making clip at the end while the credits roll over. This clipping is so stunning to watch. In fact, I was surprised that such efforts could even be made for a film that runs for less than 30 minutes. The director, Yashiro Takeshi, deserves a wholehearted round of applause for his effort. Takeshi, you absolutely deserve this. 

Another strong point of the movie lies in how the story moves forward. There is a strong screenplay at work that defines the road for the character (the boy) from the beginning. The immense care towards intricate detailing makes this movie even more enjoyable. For example, there is a scene where the boy repeats the advice he gets from his father to the squirrel while traveling with him. This scene sets off a genuine smile in the viewers. 

The story, in itself, is not a great one. An illogical fantasy – if it could be called that. But the screenplay and the innocence that the characters bleed make it an enjoyable watch. Though I would not compare this movie with the far better ‘Gon, the little fox’, this movie did make an impact. And that is a great achievement for any good film.  

Do check out other movies from the Japanese Film Festival.

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