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"The Reward" is a 2013 short animated film. It was produced in Denmark, and written and directed by Mikkel Mainz Elkjaer and Kenneth Ladekjear. Although it does have some voice acting, it is confined to a few short exclamations, so this is not a Danish language film. The film is animated in a cartoonish and even flat style that is crude compared to some of the other films, especially CGI films, that I have seen lately, but it is suited for the nature of the story. The film is nine minutes long.

Part of the charm of a short film is that it often gives the audience settings and circumstances without needing to explain what is going on. Seventy seconds in to the film we have established our setting (quasi-medieval) and our theme (treasure hunt) and our personalities (two callow young men). This is all we need to know, and we go on from there: our two protagonists go on a hunt for our treasure, overcoming their feuding and several external threats in order to learn to work together. At the end of the story, they find that "The Reward" they are looking for is their maturity and friendship. The film presents this as efficiently as possible: there is a montage scene lasting less than a minute in which a dozen or more years pass.

I actually thought at the beginning of the movie that it would go in another direction: one of the establishing shots shows a square-jawed hero carrying a swooning woman off on his warhorse. I thought that the story might provide a critical look at the way that women and romantic relationships are portrayed as "rewards" for accomplishment. Throughout the film's story, much of both the threats and rewards of questing is seen as sexual, with various levels of subtlety. The film seems to not make any comment on this, and whether it is just taking that stereotype as shorthand, or whether it deserves a more critical look, is up to the viewer to decide.

The movie can be viewed on vimeo at:
and can also be viewed on youtube.

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