16mm film loop, color, silent, 3 minutes, 2017
Those Are Stars was a simply rendered graphite line animation that strove to represent a chapter called “A Sunrise,” from the Jules Verne novel The Child of the Cavern.
The Child of the Cavern tells a ten-year adventure story of mysteries occurring in the mines of Aberfoyle, Scotland. Though the mine has been closed for years, one family has stayed, making its home deep inside the earth. They continually explore the mine, eventually discovering a vast new vein of coal, enabling industry to start again. Their persistence brings the underground world to its most advanced state and allows generations to live and work below the earth without ever ascending to its surface.
The characters in The Underground City praise the merits of life beneath the ground. Young Nell, an orphan who our hero Harry rescues from a mineshaft, is granted one day above ground so she can witness a sunrise and choose if she wants to live above or below. Satisfied with her brief encounter with sun, mountains, wind, and weather, she pledges herself to a future with Harry in the caverns beneath the earth’s surface.
The heroes in Verne’s fantastical story are the ones who never desire to come up to the surface of the earth, who are happy to live where the there’s plenty of work, lots of technology, no weather to speak of, and where the air is fresher than in the coal-haunted skies of 19th century cities.