Kirsten - a young woman with long, curly brown hair, is wearing black-rimmed glasses, a white collared shirt, and a narrow cardboard box on her head like a helmet. She's grinning with a pale-pink rose between her teeth. Behind her is a colourful backdrop of an oversized pink rose drooping on its stem, and cartoonish red lettering above her reads, "Who is this politician?", with an arrow pointing to Kirsten.
Now Kirsten's in a red velvet top with a red sheet as a backdrop, and she releases a pale pink balloon from between her lips, letting it shoot away as it releases air. She rubs her lips. Her eyes are obscured by reflective sunglasses with heart-shaped lenses.
Then, wearing her black-rimmed spectacles again, she pretends to light a party horn as though it's a cigarette. She blows into it.
Kirsten slumped in a cluttered student bedroom, looking bored. Resting her chin on one hand, she rubs her left eye behind her spectacles.
Sitting in front of the red backdrop again, wearing make-up and with her hair tied back, she sobs and covers her distraught face with one hand.
A title screen. A torn banner on a sparkly purple background displays the name 'Napoleon' in red capital letters.
A scruffy, animated version of Kirsten in her sleeveless red top, her caricatured eyes drooping exaggeratedly.
When I get in a bad mood I feel like the contact lenses suction-capped to my brown irises are like toilet plungers removing the human fecal matter from my soul.
In my past life I was the Emperor of the French.
A cartoon Napoleon dancing against a strobing backdrop of purple and red, then standing with an empress on either side of him.
And I had two hot wives.
The wife on his left is holding the hand of a mischievous-looking little boy with a red sash.
In this life I'm the Emperor of nothing and I have no wives.
The cartoon Kirsten slumps, resting her chin on her hands, then she looks with bleary eyes down at a sheet of paper.
Let's see what my to-do list says.
Kirsten's handwritten to-do list.
Turn Australia into a carbon-neutral Republic with an Indigenous woman as our first President.
Animated Kirsten dressed sharply in purple and red, wearing pointed boots and a determined expression.
Written in Japanese and in English over a cartoon fire, the name 'Napoleon'.
In precise, line-drawing anime, Kirsten stands on the right with her hands in the pockets of her billowing jacket, hanging her head. At her back, a woman in a flowing dress with puffy sleeves fades in and lets go of a rose before fading out again, like the disintegrating rose bloom.
Kirsten morphs into a bright blue action figure that dives into a cartoon of Parliament House, rising up in the midst of the shocked faces of the politicians inside.
Back to the scruffy animation of the disgruntled-looking Kirsten, now with a friend who's sketching.
Emily, stop animating so good, you're going to die from exhaustion.
But Emily's precise line-drawing anime returns, showing her action figure harnessing the power of wind, water and solar panels.
Words fanning out from the central figure read 'sun', 'rainbow', '(Echo effect)' and 'holy, holy'.
In the original, scruffy animation, Kirsten points at Emily's sketch.
Look! You got no time to clean up your animation.
Emily's anime of action-figure Kirsten wielding two swords while riding a giant, menacing koala.
If you don't cut this out you're going to be dead in twenty seconds.
Emily keeps sketching.
Emily's anime Kristen now strides in her boots into the Place Vendôme in Paris, climbing up the Napoleonic monument towards the statue of Napoleon at the top of the column. She stands triumphantly atop it, outlined in blue.
But back in the scruffy animation, Emily has become a skeleton seated with a sketchbook.
Rest in peace, LOL! I told you so.
Handwriting on a lilac backdrop flanked by purple roses reads, "In honour of Emily Wells."
Actual footage of Kirsten slumped on a roadside bench becomes the caricatured animation of despondent Kirsten again.
How can I fight social injustice on one hand and climate change on the other? Particularly when I'm just a loser.
A stern-looking cartoon woman dressed in purple is pointing to a purple top hat with moons and stars on it.
Now I told youse, Napoleon, I've warned youse. You haven't touched your magic hat for three bloody weeks. Stop crying. I'm selling it on eBay.
From Kirsten crying in the cartoon to the real Kirsten reclining hopelessly in a shopping trolley. She takes a party horn from her shopping bag and puts it between her lips like a cigarette, then she pretends to light it and throws the lighter away.
Later she's dozing in the trolley, but wakes with a start, her brown eyes snapping open. She climbs out of the trolley and runs away down the one-way lane in which she was dozing.
A candy-striped puppet theatre in a sunny park, with French flags hung either side of the stage.
A paper curtain with the title 'Napoleon' on it rolls up to reveal a white backdrop.
A stop-motion animation of puppets on sticks.
I am Napoleon Bonaparte. I was born on the island of Corsica. I became a French artillery man. I had a sword and rode a horse-ica.
Napoleon's signature black bicorne hat has a cardboard face slotted into it, then a puppet body on a white horse is added, riding across the stage with a tinfoil sword.
A dog sniffs around the puppet theatre in the park.
In the stop-motion animation, a man in a red hat fires baguettes from a cannon into a guillotine.
I exploited the chaos of the French Revolution to make myself the Emperor.
Napoleon wears a tall crown to measure himself against a height chart.
I was not as short as people say but I had a short temper.
A blonde female puppet in a blue dress enters the show, grinning.
I loved the kind-hearted Joséphine and made her my Queen.
Napoleon gives her a crown and holds up a miniature version of his uniform for a baby.
But she didn't have babies so we got a divorce. I regret this because it was mean.
A cardboard Kremlin gets mobbed by angry puppets.
Don't invade Russia in winter.
The mob is crushed by an icy block labelled 'snow'.
Well, that was dumb.
Napoleon on horseback rides an orca to a sunny, mountainous land.
I learnt my lesson, will invade New Zealand in summer.
Kirsten, the puppeteer, peers out of the puppet theatre.
This is a pilot episode, we can't afford rhymes for every verse.
A stop-motion map of England wearing Napoleon's hat, which gets supplanted by a white and yellow bicorne hat with a feathery adornment.
I tried to invade England but Horatio Nelson won.
The puppet theatre stage is emptied.
After Waterloo, I was done. I died of stomach cancer in exile at the age of 51.
A hatch flips down in the base of the puppet theatre and a birthday cake with a number '51' candle slides out on a tray, above the French word 'Fin'. Kirsten emerges.
Napoleon Bonaparte! Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you. I'm here all week. I am Emperor of the French here to entertain, here to educate.
In the park, a young, studious-looking man in a brown jacket eyes Kirsten over the top of his book.
Hello! Sir, might you be a fan of my puppet show? It's a pleasure...
Actually, um, I find the puppet show to be a poor representation of Napoleon Bonaparte. He did not love poor Joséphine, he in fact chose power over love.
Kirsten looks disgruntled.
I myself as an historian am very well known on these facts, I think you will find.
Um, what if I told you that I happen to be the reincarnation of Napoleon Bonaparte.
- Yeah, me.
- A reincarnation?
- I'm Napoleon...
You can't be Laloleon Conaparte.
Ba-no... Napoleon Bonaparte.
Kirsten looks amused.
Anyone can be Napoleon Bonaparte in my video game!
She pulls a small gaming device from her jacket pocket and hands it to the historian.
She sits beside him on the grass while he plays the video game.
- I'm trying.
- Go like this.
A hand-drawn title screen for the video game that reads in purple and red bubble writing, 'Napoleon Fixes Australia'. While the game loads, an animated figure of Kirsten in her red jacket, purple pants and pointy boots runs beneath the word 'Loading'.
Becoming anime-style again, she flings off her jacket and parades around the centre of the half-purple, half-red screen.
She leaps backwards as a wall descends, bearing the words 'classism', 'sexism', 'racism', 'homophobia', 'ableism', 'ageism' and 'religious intolerance'.
She tries kicking and punching the wall, to no avail, then giving up she slumps against the wall in exhaustion.
An inventory screen pops up, giving four options of weapon: swords, a gun, a bulldozer and a universal declaration of human rights. The swords are selected first.
Anime Kirsten slices at the wall with her swords, but they glance off with no effect, and she slams them repeatedly into the ground in frustration.
Next she tries a bulldozer, which she rides towards the wall while still wielding both swords. But the bulldozer hits the wall without effect, other than toppling Kirsten to the ground.
The next selection is the universal declaration of human rights. Holding the document, wide-eyed anime Kirsten soars up through the air, pirouetting gracefully as she rises.
The game ends with a scruffy animation of Kirsten slumped in her trolley, applauding, then anime Kirsten returns, parading around with a gloating expression and pulling on her jacket before rising into the air.
Photos of the real Kirsten and the history student superimposed on a sparkly purple backdrop with the name Napoleon! written in red as if in lipstick.
The scruffy animation of Kirsten returns, only now she's writing in rainbow colours.
I'm writing a letter to Genghis Khan, ah, she lives in W.A. I'm writing her a letter to tell her about our success today.
'Cause revolutions happen one person at a time. You convert one person, they'll convert more people and then by the time you know it the country's been transformed for the better.
Ah, so go tell Genghis about this and, ah, maybe she'll start thinking I'm cool.
I mean everything I do, she does better. Want to know why she's the boss? Look at this chart I got off the internet. Worst atrocities on record.
A hand-drawn column graph labelled 'Worst Atrocities on Record' shows the number of people in millions killed in various major historical events.
And look, there's me. 4 million!
A relatively short column in the middle - the only red column among all the purple ones - labelled with Napoleon's name.
And, um, that's Genghis. 40 million.
Genghis's column gets highlighted in red too. It's the second highest column on the chart.
The droopy eyes of animated Kirsten widen in surprise.
Man, my score's pretty low, I gotta try harder in this life.
The cartoon Kirsten rolls around laughing, then breaks into a coughing fit that topples her.
Ah, just tricking.
End credits roll over video footage of Kirsten lighting a pair of party-horn cigarettes. She wanders away through a graffiti-covered car park, kicking a bucket from the top of a pole as she passes.
Credits: Napoleon - Kirsten Hoffman. Historian - Jackson Cook. French voice - Nick Paton. Scruffy animation - Kirsten Hoffman. Asset design - Asher Karahasan. Anime - Emily Wells. Puppet stand - Lucy Davidson. Other live action - Lauren Hunter. Music by Lauren Hunter and Asher Karahasan. Story input from everyone. Thank you to our families. Written and produced by Kirsten Hoffman.
Proudly presented by Fine Arts and Music at The University of Melbourne.
A final red and purple screen reads 'VCA animators rule' above pencil sketches of a group of seven men and women laughing and grinning.
Follow on Instagram: @studiolarrikin
Napoleon poses the improbable, ‘What would Napoleon Bonaparte do if he was reborn in the modern era as an Australian woman?’ In this fictitious film piece Napoleon ignores gender, doesn’t care that she’s a bum and is unstoppably arrogant. Although it might be liberating to entertain such an unfortunate reincarnation of this despot, the artist reminds us that Napoleon is still just an egotist who killed millions of people for a “legacy”, only to die like the rest of us.
Kirsten Hoffman, Bachelor of Fine Arts (Animation), 2018
Emily Graham, Lucy Davidson, Lauren Hunter, Asher Karahasan