User Tag List

Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread: Infinity of Imagination: The Animated Shorts Thread

  1. #1
    What a happy day it is! Elliott?'s Avatar
    Join Date: Dec 2010
    Location: Atlanta
    Pronoun(s): He/him
    Posts: 2,701

    Infinity of Imagination: The Animated Shorts Thread

    I've been on a bit of a kick of watching animated shorts this year, and I figured AW could use a thread devoted to them!

    I got the thread title from Roger Ebert's Great Movies essay on three of Chuck Jones' best shorts: Duck Amuck, One Froggy Evening, and What's Opera, Doc?.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Ebert
    These cartoons, and all the cartoons from the same tradition, seemed doomed to play for a week and then disappear (although sometimes there would be a collection of "Five Color Cartoons" before a kiddie matinee, and London's Piccadilly Circus had a theater that played only cartoons). Then, just as the studios pulled the plug on cartoon shorts, color TV came along to give them a new life, and now on cable and DVD they seem immortal. There are two ways to regard them: As silly little entertainments, or as an art form that in its own small way, its limitations permitting an infinity of imagination, approaches perfection.
    I started working through a lot of the Oscar winners earlier this year, and found a lot of films I love, a lot of films I liked, and a lot of films that left me cold. That led me to down a rabbit hole of a whole slew of shorts. My schedule has been really difficult this year, and I've had trouble finding time to watch a lot of feature-length films, so shorts scratch that itch in a lot less time and often my more easily accessible means! Just to get the ball rolling, here are some of my thoughts on some of my favorite viewings.

    --

    The Cat Concerto (dir. Hanna & Barbera, 1947)

    I watched a lot of cartoons when I was younger (mostly on Cartoon Network) -- I was a sucker for The Powerpuff Girls and Dexter's Lab and Johnny Bravo and Ed, Edd, and Eddy, eventually working my way over to Nickelodeon for the likes of SpongeBob and Fairly Odd Parents, but I can remember spending hours at a time parked in front of my TV watching seemingly endless Tom and Jerry shorts. I'm sure, when it all boils down to it, I watched more Looney Tunes, but so much of my sense of humor was informed by the absurd slapstick of Tom and Jerry.

    In revisiting The Cat Concerto for my little wading through of the Oscar-winning animated shorts, I found myself feeling like a kid again, only this time I was sitting at my kitchen table, watching it on my laptop. The feelings were the same. I was delighted by the ingenious animation, by the insane slapstick sensibilities, the thrilling use of Liszt's music. This ranks with What's Opera, Doc? and Duck Amuck as an example of what the very medium of a cartoon can accomplish. Iconic, genius, and a masterpiece.
    ()

    --

    La Maison en Petits Cubes (dir. Kato, 2008)

    Memory as a series of boxes, waiting to be unpacked.

    This was utterly gorgeous. Director Kunio Kato and writer Kenya Hirata have created a patient, twelve-minute masterpiece of the animated form here, exploring a flooded world and a widower's reconciliation with his grief. Maybe it reads differently in 2019 than it did in 2008, as we're regularly being told about how little time we actually have to reverse the effects of climate change, but I found this to be eerily prescient. Without even realizing I was doing it, I sat there, praying that my life wouldn't end up like this man's. And yet, he was surrounded by people he loved and has seemingly been content in his home, so much so that he does the very most he can to stay alive. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to be resigned to that kind of fate.
    (watch here)

    --

    The Man Who Planted Trees (dir. Back, 1987)

    Part of the joy of working through the Oscar-winning animated shorts is the incredible diversity in the winners: that this one category, since 1932, has awarded the likes of Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry to the Japanese poeticism of La Maison en Petit Cubes and Frédéric Back's stunning masterpiece The Man Who Planted Trees. Clocking in at thirty minutes, the film is significantly longer than the usual winner of the award, and is also based on readily available source material, another rarity of the category. Interestingly, based on those two factors, it has much in common with Aleksandr Petrov's The Old Man and the Sea, which won the award twelve years after this film did: in addition to their shared length and being adaptations, the two films also boast dreamlike animation unlike anything else found in the category.

    Narrated beautifully in English by Christopher Plummer, Back's film follows the life-affirming story of an old shepherd who finds meaning in life by planting trees in a famine-parched land over thirty years and how it renews life in the area. It's a simple story, but Back (as well as screenwriter Jean Roberts and writer of the original story Jean Giono) carefully ground the events in 20th century history (specifically the two World Wars) and in establishing the Narrator and the shepherd as two distinct characters with a fully developed relationship. The initial text, if this film is to be believed, is an incredibly potent short story with wise and moving musings on life, its meaning, and God. The film takes that and blows it up with the help of Back's unspeakably beautiful animation. It's gorgeous and cathartic like few feature length films are. This is a masterpiece of the animated form.
    (watch here)

    --

    Harvie Krumpet (dir. Elliot, 2003)

    Adam Elliot's Harvie Krumpet preceded his cult feature Mary & Max by six years, but the two clearly share the same DNA of a filmmaker with a singular voice. Purely by description alone, this film could have been morose and grim, but in practice, the animation and writing and terrific narration (thanks Geoffrey Rush) make this life-affirming without being sentimental and ironic without being mean-spirited. There's a dry, sad wit here, and being a portrait of one optimistic soul wrestling with disabilities and a gray, mean world, the film boldly chooses joy. It's a beautiful, humanist masterwork.
    (watch here)

    --

    Neighbours (dir. McLaren, 1952)

    Oh, I loved this.

    Neighbours spends all of eight minutes to convey the simple universal message "Love Your Neighbor." It's a simple idea executed in a jaw-dropping way -- Norman McLaren essentially animates the film in pixilation, or stop-motion live-action work. The editing and special effects through the stop-motion are stunning. It's funny, clever, and weirdly touching in its own way. Brief and basically perfect.
    (watch here)

    --

    This is just a smattering of my favorites from the last couple months, of course. Some other major stunners for me have been Bao, A Close Shave, The Wrong Trousers, Paperman, Every Child, Hedgehog in the Fog (FYC 1975 Canon!), Gerald McBoing-Boing... there are too many.

    Discuss! Talk about your faves! Talk about the ones that aren't your faves if you want!

  2. #2
    Bored Awards Obsessive The Dark Poet's Avatar
    Join Date: Sep 2014
    Pronoun(s): Varda
    Posts: 5,933
    What a great idea for a thread!


    In the lea of a picturesque city lies a large, pretentious theatre, one that pampers its nominees like its own bebês.
    Hi! I'm Catherine O'Hara, and if you like deserving Emmy nominees as much as I do, then you'll appreciate the craftsmanship and quality of a local actress who brings the sarcastic goodness to every line delivery and the delicious camp to her exuberant performance.
    Come see the difference good writing can make on your television.
    You'll remember the experience, and you'll remember the name:
    Chantelle Orteez. Catherine Torreez. Capsicum Tayzlor. Curd Harrison. Christina O'Malley. Catriona Orphanage. Cruz Hargision.

  3. #3
    What a happy day it is! Elliott?'s Avatar
    Join Date: Dec 2010
    Location: Atlanta
    Pronoun(s): He/him
    Posts: 2,701
    Quote Originally Posted by The Dark Poet View Post
    What a great idea for a thread!
    Thank you as always, friend.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •