THE SECRET WAR: Episode Review – Love, Death + Robots

The Secret War - Episode Review

This is the perfect ‘desert’ for this roller coaster of a meal, he perfect icing on the cake, he perfect way to close out the series on a high. Real high. ‘The Secret War’ steps up to the plate and delivers a phenomenal end to this phenomenal anthology. Set in the heart of Siberia, this absolutely gorgeous animated short depicts a ‘secret war’ between a band of soldiers in the red army, led by Lt. Nikolai Zakharov, and an alien force.

The short begins with the band of soldiers entering a village that has been run down by the alien creatures. The attention to detail and photo-realistic animation does brilliantly to introduce the setting of the short. Some of the images, the background score and the voice-overs amplify the intensity of this story that just keeps increasing as the plot progresses. The gory scenes of the village and the dialogues further help fortify this. The band then moves into the forest, where we are introduced to the first action sequence of the short. The colour scheme of black and red, with the loud, intense background score capture the audience into this world, gripping them. Eventually, this battle-hard band of soldiers finds themselves up against overwhelming odds as the true horror of the alien forces stare back at them. They make one final stand against these beasts, a spectacular display of bravely and courage. The episode ends, with reinforcements arriving and bombing the snow-capped valley engulfed in a fiery inferno as they bomb the area.

In terms of visuals, it is definitely one of the best in this anthology. The photo realistic animation, the darker colour schemes and the attention to detail, like the slight nods by Nikolai and the addition of the northern lights in the background simply amplify the intensity of this episode. The white settings with the blowing winds beautifully contrast the darkness of the forest and red of the blood, abundant in this film. The action sequences as well are beautifully conceptualized with brilliant camera work. This film is without a doubt one of the most visually gorgeous films I have seen to date.

The plot and story definitely justifies the animation. ‘A final stand’ story will never fail to move you and this definitely does. The effective backstory with well-written dialogues creates a beautiful foundation for this episode. The addition of new, young soldier adds so many more layers of innocence and youth to this piece, creating a complete circle of emotions. The music choice as well: The background music at the end is the same as in the scene where the young soldier is interrupted from playing music in the camp. There is some reason for action in this short. Similar to the other episodes in this anthology, this short too has a twist at the end, when the audience realizes that Nikolai is actually the young soldiers father. It adds a whole new perspective to this piece, bringing in so many more emotions.

Given the amount of action here, it’s surprising that ‘The Secret War’ is somewhat somber and reflective, largely due the pockets of silence between the dialogues and the dark, contrasting colour schemes. This works really well to drive home the emotional weight of the characters before closing out, with one final, breathtaking action sequence.

In all aspects, ‘The Secret War’ is a fantastic way to end the anthology, definitely justifying this beautiful piece of art. It showcases the artistic prowess of different animation styles and conveys the how effective animation can actually be. T.V. shows like this are required to portray the beauty of this underrated art. With a strong plot and stunning visuals, this short can easily be turned into a feature film but I do not think that it would justify the emotions that are felt in this short. It is easily one of the best episodes in the anthology, very literary finishing the series off with a ‘bang.’ (Sorry… I had to)


Aryamaan’s Rating – 92/100

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