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Western Animation / Sintel

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Sintel is a Dutch animated short directed by Colin Levy. It was released in 2010.

A young girl by the name of Sintel (voiced by Halina Reijn) befriends an injured baby dragon, who she calls Scales, only to have it snatched away one day by another adult dragon. She goes on a quest to reclaim her friend and endures many hardships along the way.

The third Blender Foundation movie, made to both drive development and showcase the power of Blender, an open source 3D modelling package. You can watch it here. Like previous BF movies Elephant's Dream and Big Buck Bunny, the main drive is the visuals. This time, however, the team focused on telling a much richer story, and it shows, having a very deep story for the short run time. There is a rather tragic twist near the end, though, which has a tendency to upset certain viewers.

This short features examples of:

  • Action Girl: Sintel fights off a man trying to kill her in the opening scene, and kills an adult Scales at the climax.
  • All There in the Manual: The city we see in the film is called Ishtar, according to notations in the concept art. They also have names and roles for the gatekeeper barbarians (although only one is seen in the film).
  • Ambiguous Gender: Scales' sex is never outright stated or confirmed. As an adult, the dragon is found presiding over a nest with a hatchling, but it's still not clear if this is because Scales is the mother, the father, or if dragons in this world have their own unique reproductive system.
  • Androcles' Lion: Sintel meets Scales by finding the dragon with an injured wing and tending to its wound. When they meet again after the passage of time, Scales recognizes Sintel and backs off from trying to kill her. Sadly, Sintel doesn't make the connection at that point and seizes that opportunity to strike a mortal blow on Scales.
  • A Boy and His X: A Girl And Her Dragon. Sintel is a lonely vagabond living on the streets who bonds with a baby dragon that similarly has no one else after it sustains an injury that renders it incapable of flying. An adult dragon capturing it prompts the girl to embark on a quest to rescue and reunite with her companion.
  • Collapsing Lair: The dragon's lair collapses as Sintel escapes.
  • Covered with Scars: Near the ending of the movie, Sintel stares into the reflection of Scale's blood puddle and sees that she's aged significantly. She has also suffered from many wounds and injuries throughout the years on her journey with cuts and wounds all over the upper part of her body.
  • Determinator: Sintel's one objective is to reunite with Scales, and no foe will cause her to back down from it. Deconstructed at the end. Sintel becomes so laser-focused on finding her friend that she fails to take into account how much time passed since the moment they were separated. By the time she finds Scales, he has grown to adulthood and she can no longer recognize him immediately, causing her to kill him.
  • Distinguishing Mark: Sintel recognizes Scales during the climax thanks to the scar on its wing.
  • Downer Ending: The film ends with Sintel an old woman, Scales accidentally slain by Sintel's own hands, and Scales' baby with no family except maybe Sintel herself.
  • Dragon Tamer: The protagonist is a young woman who befriends a baby dragon and tries to teach him how to fly. When he is snatched away by an adult dragon, she sets out on a quest to rescue him.
  • DVD Bonus Content: And how! Four discs with the film in NTSC, PAL, and HD in multiple formats, 7 commentaries, multiple tutorials about using Blender, an hour long documentary, and all of the source files required to remake the film.
  • Evil Weapon: Sort of. It's not intelligent, but the spear Sintel claims from the barbarian has "shed much innocent blood." Unintentionally, she uses it to shed some more.
  • Foreshadowing: The shaman on the mountain that gives Sintel shelter briefly remarks that she has only "failed to see" something during their conversation.
  • Irony: In her eagerness to get back her dragon, Sintel ends up killing an adult dragon, who turns to be none other than Scales himself.
  • Karmic Twist Ending: Sintel is so intent on getting Scales back and taking revenge on the big dragon that she spends 20 years hunting them down and doesn't realize until it's too late that the big dragon is actually Scales. The ending song has a line:
    And when you see all that I have seen / Can you tell me love from pride?
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Killing Scales as an adult causes the cave to crumble, making it absolutely clear that Scales died.
  • Meaningful Name: "Sintel" is the Dutch word for "cinder" or "ember". Ton Roosendaal defined it as meaning "a piece of glowing coal or metal. It glows brightly, burns, and then becomes ashes..." Sintel grows old over the course of the film, though she's apparently ignorant of her own aging and doesn't realize it until she accidentally kills Scales and is revealed to be a older woman, fading away with nothing left to live for.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: The dragon Sintel fights during the climax is actually an adult Scales trying to defend his infant. It's heavily implied that the adult dragon that kidnapped him early on was actually one of his progenitors, who retrieved him to raise him into adulthood.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Sintel is horrified once she deduces that the dragon she just mortally wounded was an adult Scales. This is capped off by her seeing her reflection in a puddle as an old woman, finally realizing how long she has been on her quest.
  • Form-Fitting Wardrobe: Sintel's clothes fit very tightly over her body.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: It seems that dragons are predatory animals with "earthly" life-spans that tend to breathe fire instead of the "usual" superintelligent creatures that live for thousands of years.
  • Perma-Stubble: The creators had some fun with this in a paint-over of Sintel's concept art.
  • Production Throwback: Characters make appearances from both of the Blender Foundations previous shorts. In the market scene, you can clearly see Proog from Elephant's Dream, and the butterflies in the bamboo forest are just a Palette Swap of the ones from Big Buck Bunny.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Scales is absolutely adorable with his large expressive eyes, small-toothed mouth, and timid disposition.
  • Rule of Perception: Sintel doesn't realize that she's been journeying for years searching for Scales. This is represented by her model remaining the same for most of the film until the end, where she suddenly appears to be older once she sees her reflection in the puddle of Scales' blood.
  • Scars are Forever: Scales bore a scar on his wing from the injury he sustained earlier. It's how Sintel identifies him at the very end.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Sintel goes all that way to not only fail in her quest, but accidentally kills Scales herself.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Sintel wears a tank top but not completely sleeveless. She has gloves, a single shoulder pad on her left arm and a tattoo.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: After the cave collapses, Scales' child follows Sintel as she leaves, just before the credits.
  • Tank-Top Tomboy: Sintel wears a spaghetti strap tank top for the entire movie (with the exception of a few scenes of her in a coat.)
  • Tears of Remorse: Sintel sheds them after she realizes that she had killed Scales.
  • Time Skip: The events in the short take place several years after Sintel's flashback, meaning she is really an aged woman and Scales is no longer an infant. Her failure to notice the years that passed leads to the short's Karmic Twist Ending.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Sintel doesn't realize how much time has passed until she sees her reflection in Scales' spilt blood.



A Girl and her Dragon

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