Image: Noemie David, Julien Becquer, Andy Dupont, Matthias Mouton, Florent Arnould

The bearded man plunges his axe into a tree, and the tree turns into crystal. The camera pans out, and we see an entire forest like this, dozens of trees petrified in purple arrangements of gemstone.

“Déraciné”, a short film made by students of the Supinfocom Rubika film and computer graphics school in France, opens with this beautiful and unsettling image. It takes place in an unfamiliar fantasy wilderness, telling a story of a magic axe and ecological vengeance. It begins like about what you would imagine from an artsy short film—there are long, quiet shots, surprising images, and lots of unanswered questions.

Then the tree men show up, and things get wild. 

The film, which has been shown at a few festivals around the world, doesn’t look like the work of people still learning their craft. It’s polished and fluid, and its imagery is vivid in a way I didn’t see coming. It’s always exciting to see original fantasy ideas come from small projects like this, and I hope these creators find more work soon. Sadly, I can’t find much about them online, and what I can find is in French, but hopefully whatever they make will find its way to American shores.

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By the by, “déraciné” means “uprooted.” You’ll get it when you watch the film below.

[Vimeo]