With the most basic of modern tools, we are capable of magic.
This summer, Wieden + Kennedy did its part in expressing this with its “Stories Are Everywhere” campaign for Instagram. But to more elaborately illustrate the production scope of what we hold in our hands, Apple enlisted director Michel Gondry to shoot a film using only an iPhone 7 Plus.
“Détour” is inspired by the works of Jaques Tati and Albert Lamorisse, but the man who gave us Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind owes many other cinematic debts for this compact and charming piece of work. You’d never guess it was shot using only a phone (though the skills of a veteran director probably help with that—it’s never really about the tools, is it?).
The 10-minute piece follows a family going on vacation. Their little girl insists they not forget her tricycle, which they attach (pretty iffily) to the end of their VW. Of course it detaches, setting off a two-sided Quest—the helpless heroine who longs for her beloved bike, and the bike working its hardest to get back to her.
If you’ve ever watched a Gondry film, you won’t be disappointed. Warm-hearted serendipity mixes with the surreal. Among singing fish and dancing chickens, you’ll feel vestiges of The Red Balloon, Amélie and even American Beauty, when a floating plastic bag whimsically helps draw the tricycle closer to its goal.
The ending is alternately heartbreaking and hopeful.
“Détour” is a welcome gift into summer, when we’re more inclined to be seduced by buoyant, strawberry-sweet entertainment. It’s also a love letter to France’s cinematic history and culture—and though it’s in French, its touch is light enough to keep the work of reading subtitles from feeling overly long or academic.
The iPhone’s video-enriching benefits, in fact, do all the heavy lifting—this without ever making themselves feel too obvious. You’ll lose yourself in the story without much taking note of the unit’s 4K recording, slow-mo, time-lapse and low-light capabilities … but like a well-honed soundtrack, that subtlety is part of the magic.
“Détour” will be taking over Apple’s U.K. website. In a series of masterclasses on the site (which, unlike Masterclass.com, won’t cost you $90), users can also learn the techniques Gondry uses to weave bite-sized visual masterpieces.
Gondry himself will also be supporting the film launch in person. This evening he’ll be speaking at the “Today @ Apple” event at Paris’ Marché Saint-Germain from 6pm-7:30pm. There, he’ll also share his perspective on the future of cinema and describe how he shot “Détour” using only an iPhone. This will be followed by a screening of the film itself.
Watch it. It won’t change your life or anything, but there are many less inspired ways to spend 10 minutes.