Hi. I'm Tharmas, but I listed my username as Roger Whitson. I've been fascinated by this film short from Brazilian filmmakers Guilherme Marcondes and Andrezza Valentin for almost a year without knowing precisely what to do with it:
The short seems, at first glance, to be an eco-redemptive narrative. The tyger appears in a nihilistic urban setting and unleashes the primitive core of each character, animalizing them. These characters are, to borrow an often quoted term from Deleuze and Guattari, becoming-animal, their repressed primitive essence exploding onto the bleak world and illuminating it.
But this becoming is not as simple or as easy as my theoretical shorthand suggests. Becoming, first of all, has nothing to do with essence, nor does it have much to do with the animal. As Ron Broglio and Fred Young suggest in the subtitle to their essay Animal Revolution, "there are no animals." Steve Baker's The Postmodern Animal argues further that Deleuze and Guattari's becoming-animal is a mode of experimentation in which the language of subjectivity is sacrificed for the awkwardness of finding a new style, a new way of participating in the "unthinking or undoing of the conventionally human" (104). One does not become an animal when one is involved in a becoming-animal.
Tyger struggles with the line separating interpretation and artistic experimentation associated with becoming-animal. The film must contend with another becoming that haunts literary scholars: its uncertain relationship with William Blake and his poem "The Tyger" written around 1794. "The Tyger" (you can read the poem from the Blake Archive here) argues against the violence of symmetry by allying it with the ferocity associated with tigers and disrupting the otherwise orderly and arguably symmetrical meter and rhyme with the word "symmetry." The poem performs the violence of symmetry by highlighting our desire for order in poetry, suggesting that this order can only exist by sacrificing the most important word in the poem (symmetry) and foregrounding our frustration when the orderly structure of the poem is subverted.
Marcondes and Valentin’s film replaces essentialist conceptions of ecology and authorship with one that celebrates the awkwardness and uncontrolled enthusiasm of artistic experimentation. Its setting suggests the carnivalesque, with early images of roller-coasters and tents replaced with the neon foliage surrounding the drab, flat cityscape at the end. The tyger is manipulated by shadowy figures, its joints expose a kite-like structure to the animal. The shadowy figures highlight the tyger’s artificial nature and suggest a sinister presence behind the tyger’s actions. The distinction between artificiality and nature becomes difficult to maintain in the film as it represents nature with artifice and imagines the cityscape (and its resonances of artificiality) with realistic photographs.
The filmmakers situate the background with filmed images, and place their flat, artificial characters on top. As the film progresses, the distinction between the background and the foreground becomes more apparent. This celebration of artifice in the face of authenticity or realism becomes the rallying point for the filmmakers' Deleuzo-Guattarian clamor of being—as the artificial, flat animals rise up and obscure the photo-realistic cityscape at the end. It also suggests that the becoming-animal is not natural or related to nature, but that to be becoming-animal, one must also be becoming-artifical.