Lovingly sub-titled, “A Quarantined Paper Series,” The Little Broomstick Rider makes due with nothing more than a simple soundtrack, papercraft sets and characters, and lots and lots of hand lettered title cards. Neverbird Productions stretched the limits of safe quarantined creation, boldly taking on an episodic series in the middle of a pandemic where most productions have been put off indefinitely. But of course, papercraft, even as intricate and gorgeous as it is, is a fairly solitary art form–and one that can easily be shared digitally between creators. In a way, it’s a perfect lockdown creative outlet.
In 1620s Bavaria, a nine-year old boy goes on trial for witchcraft. Complicated, and perhaps a little amoral, but the kicker is–he’s proud to share his history with witchcraft and his personal Demon, Belial. Completely stunned, a stuffy court of elders must decide his fate, as he continues to boastingly show off his magic.
Based on a German folktale penned by Ludwig Bechstein in the 19th century titled “The Little Pitchfork Rider”, The Little Broomstick Rider lovingly adapts folklore and history into a delightfully modern, cheeky tale of magic and mischief. Director and Illustrator Matteo Bernardini breathes hysterical life into his stuffy, almost grotesque characters–simply adding a tremor to a title card or an extra line to their expression provides character and subtle meaning that keeps even the longer, more lagging moments of repetitive dialogue entertaining.
Of course, it’s difficult to keep dialogue presented only via title cards fascinating, but the humor throughout and the wicked pacing gives a charm to the motley crew of the Broomstick Rider ensemble. In particular, our little Broomstick Rider himself, Linhard, maintains a delightful childlike pace and candor throughout, especially as he carefully draws Belial, and the lemon cake he brings when they get together. The Little Broomstick Rider is delightful, beautiful, breathing art, presented with humor and wit.
The Little Broomstick Rider is currently playing at Slamdance 2021.
8 out of 10