Beautiful is an animation short film that, in its five-minute length, aims to convey an important and moving message. Directed by Mulan Fu, film director, illustrator, and animator, who also composed the music score, the short film has already won an abundance of awards and has been selected to screen at the Academy Award- Qualifying IndyShorts International Film Festival.
The film depicts the love of a daughter for her mother through the passing of time. As a child, the little girl sees her mother as a beautiful and caring goddess, and she likes watching her as she puts make-up on and dresses up in front of the mirror. Now the little girl has turned into a young woman and she’s at the bedside of her mother after she has gone through breast surgery. She’s now the one combing her hair – which is actually a wig, and the fake hair that falls down as the comb gets through them makes the girl realize more than ever that her mom is suffering and she’s not anymore the woman she worshipped during her childhood. But she loves her as she did before, and through her love, she wants to make her feel appreciated and beautiful. She hugs her in front of the mirror, the same one that now reflects the image of an aged woman, naked, without hair, and with an amputated breast.
The image in the mirror, although terrifyingly painful, does not truly reflect the woman in front of it, who is much more than the body the disease has transformed. Beautiful, starting from its title, wants to appeal to a concept of beauty that goes beyond appearances and at the same time sees it through the perspective of the mother-daughter relationship, whose depiction is often victim of stereotypes such those of competition and jealousy. Here the mother-daughter bond is represented in a sincere state of love and affection, combined with female complicity, testified also by the last scene, a hopeful one, that doesn’t allow a sad conclusion and makes us look forward to a brighter future.
Beautiful wants to make us believe in the power of love and in the inconsistency of beauty standards linked to physical appearance, wanting to show that real beauty lays in how we perceive people, and when we love them it doesn’t matter how they look, and we are able to make them look at themselves through our eyes. At the same time, the short film is also a campaign supporting women with breast cancer, appealing to all the women that have seen their bodies going through the transformations caused by chemo and medical surgery: speaking directly to these women, especially if they’re mothers as well, Beautiful launches a positive statement that can hopefully reach everyone that happens to be directly or indirectly called upon from its simple but yet poignant story.