It is rare indeed to find an animated short film of such exceptional quality as Sintel (it’s Norwegian piece and Sintel translates to Cinder). Sintel isn’t a product of some big studio or animation company but rather a demonstration piece that seeks to illustrate the abilities of the free and Open Source Blender software through the production of a series of short projects that may be taken as merely software demos or, in the case of Sintel, a damn good short animated film in its own right.
Sintel is only 15 minutes long yet it packs an awful lot into that short time…if anything too much as it has to skate over many story aspects at an uncomfortably fast rate…though that’s the only negative comment I would make about the plot. If I were looking to pick other holes in it Sintel does have a few, entirely forgiveable, glitches in the animation of the central character at some points where rapid movement is seen…that said any animation not done on a Hollywood scale budget would have this issue. My overall impression is a that I would wish it to have been far longer thus giving the plot room to breathe and expand on the sketchiness of detail that is inevitable in such a short piece.
Without giving too much away the overall arc of the story is that of a coming of age story where the heroine is of good heart but is brought down by her human failings she loses her childhood friend and goes on a quest to recover same which ends in tragedy when upon killing a deadly foe while on this quest she realises that the foe was her old friend all along. Oh, and there are dragons…
There simply isn’t time for back story so such characterisation has to be sketchy and implied at most…a case in point…Cinder/Sintel is an orphan but we learn this only through skilfully applied implication alone. Mere hints have to convey a great deal…visual ageing is seen and along with scars appearing on the heroines face, this alone is used to imply a long duration of her quest for her childhood friend.
Overall both plot and animation are wonderfully well executed giving a product that is a joy to watch. Sintel is entirely free so I urge you to download a copy for yourself and to thus enjoy what has to be one of the most extraordinary demonstration items for a software product ever produced.