Leonardo Da Vinci, a historical giant often overlooked, played an instrumental role in shaping modern electronics, locomotion, and aviation. While we are inundated with anecdotes of his brilliance, his story rarely graces the silver screen. Fortunately, Jim Capobianco’s animated masterpiece, “The Inventor,” delves into the zenith of Leonardo Da Vinci’s career, offering a captivating cinematic experience for all audiences.
“The Inventor” introduces us to Leonardo Da Vinci, portrayed by the brilliant Stephen Fry, who faces heresy accusations due to his fascination with human anatomy. However, when the threat of war looms with France, the Cardinal of Aragon, brought to life by Hum Capobianco, sends Leonardo on a mission to negotiate peace with the newly crowned Francis I, played by Gauthier Battoue. In this foreign land, Leonardo initially finds an environment conducive to his work, only to realize that the king seeks personal power through his genius, leaving him disenchanted. Amidst this disillusionment, Marguerite, portrayed by Daisy Ridley, becomes his beacon of hope, urging him to persevere despite adversity.
“The Inventor” takes an unconventional stop-motion approach, using figurines moved in meticulous increments to create an animated ambiance. Instead of relying on readily available computer-generated technology, the creators opted for a labor-intensive method that suits Leonardo’s story admirably.
Interspersed throughout the film are captivating 2D animated segments that delve into Leonardo’s inner thoughts and the formulation of his inventions. These moments offer profound insight, rendering Leonardo’s concepts, such as war machines and mechanical lions, comprehensible and breathtakingly lifelike.
The voice acting is impeccable, with Stephen Fry, a seasoned actor and comedian, delivering a pitch-perfect portrayal of Leonardo. His performance infuses humor and warmth into this multifaceted historical figure.
Daisy Ridley shines as Marguerite, the princess unwavering in her support of Leonardo despite the relentless opposition he faces. Notably, the film’s primary antagonists, the Cardinal of Aragon and King Francis I, are depicted as stubborn individuals obsessed with their power, rather than purely malevolent characters. “The Inventor” endears us to them by portraying them as comical and buffoonish, adding to the film’s charm.
In many respects, “The Inventor” can serve as an educational tool, providing insights into Leonardo’s inventions and his European career. It offers a glimpse into his ingenious mind and how his innovations laid the foundation for modern marvels like helicopters and electronics. The film refrains from overwhelming us with historical exposition or sociopolitical facts. Instead, it immerses us in 16th-century Italy and France, highlighting how Leonardo navigated the complex sociopolitical landscape of his era to thrive.
However, a bit more background on Leonardo’s journey to this pivotal point in his life and the challenging landscape of the 1500s could have enriched the narrative. The film briefly touches on the opposition Da Vinci faced, but a deeper exploration of these challenges could have added depth.
Nonetheless, “The Inventor” stands as an endearing film and an excellent introduction to the man behind the legend. Leonardo Da Vinci was a complex individual in a tumultuous era, and this film demonstrates how determination and creativity can triumph over adversity. World powers sought his innovations to bolster their might, but his vision of a harmonious world through creativity ultimately prevails. This timeless narrative is undeniably inspirational for creative individuals seeking solace and inspiration in their own pursuits.