UNICEF launched a new animated series meant to bring attention to the youngest victims of the Syrian refugee crisis, Unfairy Tales. Created by ad agency 180LA, the videos chronicle real children’s journeys from Syria by juxtaposing stunning animation with terrifying narrations of the terrible events wrought by this globally impactful humanitarian disaster. The first story, Malak and the Boat, tells seven-year-old Malak’s harrowing story of his journey across the Mediterranean seeking shelter from the Syrian conflict. Visual design company House of Colors built a custom animation algorithm for the film that gives the waves a stylized, almost autonomous behaviour as if the sea were a sentient thing.
While intended to contrast the contemporary mass media view of fairy tales with the harsh reality of the refugee children, it actually reveals the core of fairy tales and folklore. The power of fairy tales to convey the harsh reality through metaphor and archetype is clearly evident in this work of animation. Childhood can be fraught with perils, both imagined and very real. Through the fairy tale these perils and the human spirit of resilience can be effectively portrayed and modelled. The real outcomes & collateral damage, rather than the Disney/Victorian happy ever afterwards, can be presented, that those with power & voice can strive to create a positive outcome for those caught up in a wave of societal conflict & extreme upheaval.