New short film highlights the realities of animal testing

Humane Society International has released Save Ralph, a short film with voiceovers from Taika Waititi and Ricky Gervais underlining the perils of animal testing.

Animal rights charity Humane Society International has released a new short film, Save Ralph, to highlight what goes behind the scenes in animal testing in the cosmetic industry.

Created by London’s stop motion studio Arch Film Studio and directed by Spencer Susser, the three-minute film has voiceovers from actor Ricky Gervais and director Taika Waititi. It calls for an end to cosmetic testing on animals around the world, and also features voiceovers from actors Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, Pom Klementieff and Tricia Helfer.

Ralph, voiced by Waititi, is the charity’s “Campaign Spokesbunny”. Shot documentary-style, Ralph describes his job to an interviewer, voiced by Gervais, with positive remarks about opportunities to help humans. But as the short goes on, audiences are presented with the harsh truth of what animals like Ralph go through.

Save Ralph took nearly a year to complete, with a goal to showcase the plight of animals suffering in laboratories around the world. While animal testing is banned in 40 countries, it is still legal in most of the world.

The film uses dark humour and stop motion animation to produce an emotive message. Andy Gent, founder of Arch Film Studio, told Creative Review using live-action would have horrified viewers too much to keep their screens turned on.

The model of Ralph took 15 minutes to create, and Gent said balancing the appearance of the rabbit as the film goes on was key, as the team behind was “trying to make a character that’s super adorable, while telling a really hard story was challenging”. “So there was the drama of making him look worse for wear when we needed him to keep going.”

Gent added that animal testing needs to stop: “Working on this campaign, and you were with it for a year, so even if you were on the fence to begin with, I think after you’ve seen some of the reference material and you’ve dealt with the subject matter, you have to be on board.”

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