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Cecil's Journey to the Heart of Darkness is a 30 minute long stop motion short movie lampooning the fantasy genre in general and The Lord of the Rings in particular. The protagonist of the story is a wraith named Cecil, a Minion with an F In Evil to the resident Evil Overlord Morkyll. While Cecil is incredibly loyal to Morkyll and professes to believe in "evil", he has a strong moral compass that keeps him from carrying out his dark lord's missions. Unable to bring himself to destroy the wraith, Morkyll sends Cecil on a mission for a (fictional) magic object called "The McGuffin Stone."
Fifty years pass. Cecil is still searching for the stone when he learns that Morkyll has long since been slain in a great world. Distraught at the loss of his master, Cecil decides to go on a quest to raise Morkyll from the dead. Along the way he meets a snarky dragon named Gravatak the Apathetic, a redheaded merchant woman named Arrowyn, a trio of Goblin minstrels, and a cowardly wannabe hero named Orogon, amongst other strange characters. Needless to say, hilarity ensues.
The stop motion is amateurish and jerky at times, but the voice acting, script, and character design are worth a look.
This animation contains examples of the following tropes:
- Aerith and Bob: Cecil's name stands out quite a bit next to Arrowyn, Orogon, Gravatak...
- Affectionate Parody: Of The Lord of the Rings, The Inheritance Cycle, and Fantasy in general.
- Always Chaotic Evil: purposely averted and subverted. The goblins and other stereotypically "evil" creatures are all portrayed as normal people who just want a place to live.
- Anti-Villain: Orogon has some delusions of grandeur, but he just wants to be a world renowned hero, and really isn't all that villainous until he gets carried away.
- Chaotic Evil: Cecil claims to be this, but his concept of it is actually closer to Lawful Good.
- The Chessmaster: Gravatak
- Cool Horse: Parodied with the chubby donkey.
- Dem Bones: Cecil.
- Generic Name: The town of Genericton.
- Gentle Giant: The Cyclops
- Glory Hound: Orogon.
- Heel Face Turn: The Cyclops
- Heroes Want Redheads: Arrowyn.
- Heroic BSOD: Cecil has two throughout the course of the movie.
- High Fantasy
- I Have Many Names: Gravatak the Gray, Gravatak the Apathetic, or simply Gravatak.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gravatak
- Medieval European Fantasy: With heavy doses of Norse Mythology for good measure.
- Minion with an F In Evil: Cecil can't kick a dog to save his life.
- Miles Gloriosus: Orogon verges on this.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Say "Morkyll" out loud.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Gravatak looks like a very unimpressive version of the stereotypical European dragon, being hardly bigger than a bear and sporting drab gray colors, stubby legs, and a pair of vestigial wings.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Sorta played straight. They look like normal dwarves, but lack the traditional Scottish accents, and have an odd affinity for cross-dressing.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Cecil and the other wraith are ghosts stuck in their corporeal bodies, with Cecil's body having rotted into an animate pile of bones.
- Our Goblins Are Different: They're frog-like and, on occasion, form jazz-playing minstrel bands.
- Punny Name: Orogon.
- The Quest: Cecil's titular Journey.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Cecil gathers several other "evil" creatures together by the end of the movie.
- Shout-Out: Very, very many, with nods to Norse Mythology, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Sweeney Todd, and Zora Neale Thurston's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, to name a few.
- Standard Fantasy Setting
- Straight Man: Arrowyn ends up playing this role in most of her scenes.
- Talking to Himself: The movie only had five voice actors and several speaking roles. Cecil and Gravatak both had the same voice actor.
- Trickster Mentor:Gravatak