Mosley is an unusual and gently told animated film aimed at children. The story revolves around an intelligent, talking species called thoriphants who look a bit like elephants but with pointed ears, tusks and no trunk. They are enslaved by humans who give the thoriphants no credit for their intelligence and dignity. Through one particular thoriphant – Mosley – and his family, we see how the species longs to be able to walk upright and have fingers, as their ancestors did. The adventure sees Mosely rising up to defend his family from the humans, searching for his long-lost ancestors, and breaking free of his bonds.
An adult might easily see in Mosley a picture of human slavery and the denigration of one people group by another. Even young children will at least recognise elements of unfairness, cruelty and oppression. Whether slavery, or simple prejudice, the representation in Mosley could make for a good discussion between adults and children on the subjects of injustice and worthwhile values.
Mosley is unusual in its use of Christian/biblical images. Mosley’s search for his ancestors takes him back to an Eden-like place, where we see in stylistic form images of the fruit and tree of life, and a force (God?) outside of Mosley who helps Mosley in his hour of greatest need. This idea of faith in a higher being as opposed to faith simply within oneself contrasts with that in typical Disney films which usually feature the latter. For example, when told to ‘believe inside his heart’, Rue, Mosley’s little son, says ‘but it can’t just be in my heart, it must be real’.
But more than a journey of faith, Mosley gives us images of cave paintings, ancient warriors, lost cities in the jungle, extinction and de-extinction. These trouble the film, preventing it from being too simplistic. Even these elements are further complicated when we see that the thoriphant ancestors seem to be more advanced than the thoriphants who came after them.
In many American films the baddies speak with an English accent, the goodies with an American one. In Mosley this trend is reversed. Of course, this observation is primed when the viewer sees at the start of the movie that Mosley is a New Zealand/Chinese production, rather than the ubiquitous American one. Parents, take your children to see Mosley. It is well worth it for its difference and important values. Mosley opens in South African cinemas today, 31 January 2020.
Image: from Mosley Facebook page.