Ready for a Seven-Minute Film of 'Sonic the Hedgehog'-Related Depression?
The directors of “The Hedgehog” deny that the film is about the death of Sega.
There's an irony in a short film that is so steeped in loneliness being made by a directing duo, but then you wouldn't think that taking Sonic the Hedgehog as a starting place would lead to a film as contemplative as The Hedgehog.
The seven-minute film, which follows a solitary boy and a solitary man as they face the implications of living through Sega's flagship avatar, was made by two college friends-turned-collaborators. The film has been making the rounds of English film festivals and debuted on the internet last week.
Of course Sonic is the rare video game character whose influence spans pop culture. To some, Sonic is an erotic muse, to some a style icon, to still others, he's an avatar fighting feminism (or something).
"We became fascinated with video game obsession."
And, especially as we get further and further from the time when actual Sonic-starring video games were worth playing, he's a symbol of fading youth, or so The Hedgehog's directors, Chris Lee and Paul Storrie, told me over email. I emailed them to see what's going on in this film exactly—that ending!—and how Sonic became their muse.
"People will read into it what they will, but it's fundamentally a story about a young boy facing the loneliness and confusion of adolescence," they said, responding to emails together just as they direct films. "Everyone experiences growing up differently but no one wants to lose their childhood. This short simply aims to reflect some of our own fears and anxieties."
They grew up '90s kids on the outskirts of London. Sonic the Hedgehog, as video game, comic book, and star of television "couldn't be ignored," as they put it.
The directors told me that some people have commented that the film's quiet bleakness "might be a representation of the death of Sega but this is not something we had planned to illustrate."
Sega is still around, not making systems but still making games. But for people of a certain age, Sega is now personal history, a symbol, the filmmakers hope, through which they can address "childhood nostalgia, idolisation and obsession in general," they said.
"We became fascinated with video game obsession, the perils of rejecting the real world and the idea of not wanting to grow up," they wrote.
While the passage of time seems nonnegotiable, one thing I like about The Hedgehog is that it leaves open the possibility that our coping methods—which may involve a mutual rejection of an indifferent "real world"—might be imperfect, but at least they help you cope.
Storrie and Lee are working on a few more shorts, including one titled Performers, "which follows a group of colourful street performers on their day to day struggle to entertain the public a make a living on the streets of London," another subject no doubt rife with pathos.