Initially daily but now sporadic blog about anime and world animation with a specific focus on the artists behind the work. Written by Ben Ettinger.
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Archives for: April 2005, 12

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

11:55:09 pm , 555 words, 1020 views     Categories: Animation, Indie, Movie

The Planet

Of all the animation scenes from around the world, the Argentinian is hardly the one with which I can claim to be the most familiar. But the 2001 film The Planet (dir. Pablo Rodriguez Jauregui) makes me wish that were not so. The 51-minute film is a collection of shorts by various Argentinian animators and visual artists of widely varying stylistic proclivities, from character-based animation to action painting, set to the music of guitarist Fernando Kabusacki. The film was released on DVD in Japan not long ago. This probably hints more strongly at an interaction between the music scenes in Argentina and Japan, where in the past Kabusacki has collaborated with Seiichi Yamamoto, among others, but Juan Antin's 2002 feature Mercano the Martian has made the rounds there as well -- it's currently on the programming at the recently mentioned Uplink Factory (which released the The Planet DVD) -- so it's not a totally isolated phenomenon. It's a strange way the world turns, to undergo my Argentinian animation baptism via Japan.

The film feels like it was made for me. It's just the sort of thing I wish people did more often, getting together to create animated jam sessions like this. Seeing it, the first thing I thought was: I wish the NFB would get together their animators and make a film like this. It's the Argentinian answer to Winter Days, before Winter Days. Though of course there are differences. In this case the music is much more compelling, and the extremely high quality of the music really does a lot to increase the impact of the film. It's a perfect marriage of images and sound. The various artists in question reportedly based their animation on or were simply inspired by the same-titled CD by the musician - in the beginning was the chord. The animation is lo-fi in the best sense of the term. This is animation that is all about the personal touch, and it all feels warm and real. Some are narrative, some timed closely to the rhythm of the music, some mirror the sounds with abstract images dancing across the screen. One was a short loop animation by a small boy. The way it was photographed, with the camera focusing on one piece of the image to the next, magifying the jittering lines in a way that got us to almost look beyond the external shapes and look at the lines anew, really highlighted the basic joy of animation, and the music with which it was coupled gave the section real impact. Like Winter Days the variety of the images is its main asset. This film is music-video-like and unencumbered by words -- the images all speak for themselves -- and the fifty minutes pass by all too quickly.

This film is a chocolate box to fans of animation, and it's great that it got to see the light of day outside of its country of origin, although unfortunate that it took this long and hasn't recieved much attention anywhere else to my knowledge. The country understandably has other more pressing issues to deal with. There ought to be more projects like this in different countries, because the format offers a compact way of seeing the work of a variety of artists from different walks who would otherwise remain nearly impossible to discover.