Rupture, a stirring short film by animation director Katerina Athanasopoulou, explores how the lack of smallpox vaccination during the Franco-Prussian war led to a pandemic killing 500,000 people. Katerina profiles a French soldier on board a train transporting prisoners of war to Prussian War Camps, and follows him to a medical tent where he’s tormented by smallpox. There, he transforms from a healthy young person to a sick, broken man. In 1870, Prussia had a compulsory vaccination program for its soldiers whereas France didn’t. As a result, 23,470 French soldiers died of smallpox during the war, compared with 459 Prussian soldiers. More tragically, the general Prussian and German public were not all vaccinated, so the transport of infected French prisoners of war within Prussia triggered a five-year European pandemic where 500,000 people died of smallpox and countless others survived horribly scarred, some disabled and blind.
“What really fascinates me about this smallpox story are the parallels between the battlefield and the body. There's a war going on between two empires, but at the same time the disease is ravaging and killing from the inside.”
Greek digital animation director Katerina Athanasopoulou’s short films, screened at international film festivals and galleries, are a hybrid of live action and animation, forming richly layered worlds with a strong feel for color and texture. Her video, photographs and animation come together in a process akin to alchemy, embracing chance and experimentation. Read more about Katerina Athanasopoulou.
Have a look at these behind the scenes photos of Katerina and her animation team working in London, as they prepare Rupture.
Photos courtesy of Katerina Athanasopoulou.