The Old Man: The Movie (Vanamehe film) is a 2019 Estonian stop-motion animation, written and directed by Oskar Lehemaa and Mikk Mägi with additional writing from Peeter Ritso. The film is based on the animated short The Old Man: The Cartoon (Vanamehe Multikas), a collection of individual episodes telling the same story from the same creators.

In a remote Estonian village, three children from the city are forced to spend the summer on their grandfather’s farm. When the trio accidentally sets loose the old man’s prized but thoroughly abused cow, they learn that they have only 24 hours to milk the rogue bovine before its exponentially expanding udders explode and unleash a milk-pocalypse. To complicate this crisis, a decrepit and disgraced farmer with a body literally infused with milk and a prejudice against cattle is also determined to catch the animal, but with murderous intent.

Old Tree God

At the forefront of the film are the incredible visuals, featuring beautifully intricate landscapes created from a mix of handcrafted materials to form the foreground, and hand-drawn background images that allude to luscious environments.  This combination allows for amazingly smooth stop-motion animation to take center stage throughout the film. The Old Man: The Movie displays an expert level of skill within such a difficult medium, managing to avoid a multitude of the common problems that often occur such as lighting issues or visible imperfections from handling the models, to deliver a magnificent display of animation.

Consequently, it’s remarkably effortless to become absorbed in this remarkable world, quickly losing sight of realism and instead reveling in the distinct characteristics of the minuscule group of protagonists. Certainly, the choice to employ fixed expressions in lieu of fully animated features was, strangely, the superior choice in this instance; still managing to skillfully deliver the allusion of emotional responses even whilst lacking any distinct change in expression through natural mannerisms displayed by way of body language.

As for the story, this tale of bovine bother presents an example of how to execute low-brow humour correctly to maximise its effect. Relying on a mix of innuendo and crude moments interspersed with perfect consistency, The Old Man: The Movie manages to produce some genuinely hilarious moments throughout its run time. From ‘milking’ a cockerel to a Slip & Slide adventure through the digestive system of a bear, the film isn’t afraid of being vulgar to keep the laughs flowing, and seemingly lasts all the way until the film’s unbelievable finale.

The Old Man: The Movie is available to preorder at Unearthed Films Website, this English dub release is full of special features; including an original Estonian language dub as well as the shorts; ‘The Taste of Cow!’, ‘My cow gave birth!’, ‘The old man is tired’, and ‘I went to sauna with grandchildren!’’ from the Old Man series and a whole host of trailers for upcoming releases from Unearthed Films.

The Old Man: The Movie (2019) Estonian Stop Motion animation

Better than it has any right to be, The Old Man: The Movie is a non-stop thrill ride of laughs and mayhem. With its enamoring characters, beautifully hand-made scenery, and bonkers story (the likes of which have never been seen before), this charming European tale is a masterclass in the stop motion medium and a must-watch if you’re looking for a compelling yet non-serious story as well as low-brow humour thrown in to boot.

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