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What makes Kubo such a powerful movie?

Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo and the two strings isn’t a perfect film. It has flaws, and from a visual story student perspective, it has plenty of them. It’s a hero’s journey and follows each step religiously, but something is different in this one. The finale is flawed and weird, but it almost made me cry. The worst part, I didn’t know why it happened.

Not knowing why something happened to you is unsettling - curiosity kills you from the inside. So I decided to skim through all the major scenes in the movie one by one, but still, I couldn’t understand the reason. Feeling defeated, I turned to the internet. I read a few movie analysis, but nothing seemed to answer my question; “Although the ending was weird to the extent where I would usually switch any other movie off, why did I continue watching it and moreover, why did my eyes become moist.”

I was almost sure it was music because we all know how powerful sound is to convey emotions. Just watch the end of any Disney movie with just the subtitles and no sound and you’ll realize. As a game designer, I have realized that changing the tone of the background score or even just beat rate can change the experience drastically.

It was past midnight and I was about call it a day, but I knew something wasn’t right about the music part when it just struck me. The feeling was very similar to what I felt during one particular scene. The protagonist was walking into a trap, and the story didn’t explicitly tell us that. It was among those moments when I realized a loophole was actually a part of the plot. In game design, we do this by rewarding players who decide to explore the environment more than what is required for usual gameplay. The movie rewarded us for noticing minute details. It even tells us to notice details twice.

“ If you must blink, do it now. Pay careful attention to everything you see and hear, no matter how unusual it may seem.”

Everything made sense now. Everything I read made sense and strengthened my argument until one particular article on Google searches’ second page. It mentioned the word ‘death’. The movie plays around with the theme of death so easily, and that was the answer I was looking for. The movie explored death beautifully. It isn’t a Disney movie for kids. The dark elements in the movie were exceptionally handled, and the theme of mortality connected with me.

On a personal note, do watch the movie. It’s powerful and deserves your complete attention.

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