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: October 2005, 05

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

10:34:22 pm , 556 words, 1291 views     Categories: Animation, Indie

Anima Vision

I found a site that states that the release of the Norman McLaren: Master's Edition DVD box has been tentatively set for the end of October.

An unexpected bonus coming so soon after my viewing of Lee Sung-Gang's Texture of Skin was a short entitled Bicycle Trip by Lee among the shorts in the omnibus If You Were Me: Anima Vision, which is the third in a series of omnibus films commissioned by the Human Rights Commission to highlight issues of discrimination. Although the other shorts had their merits, Lee's stood out as easily the most memorable of the lot for its narrative assuredness, effective use of end-to-beginning structure and his usual feeling for infusing moments of poetic beauty in everyday things. It was the only film that didn't feel overwhelmed by the message it was trying to convey.

Day Dream had a tender visual touch and joyous simplicity that sensitively complemented the subject of raising deformed children, but it felt like it failed to live up to the demands of the material in terms of the way it told its story. It fell back on stereotypes and simplifications that might be acceptable for conveying the subject to very young audiences, but as an adult it only felt manipulative, when there was no need to be with such a subject. Even so it's a beautiful achievement in that it bursts with feelings of simultaneously such power and serenity that you sense that only a father with first-hand experience in this matter could have made the film. In that sense it's a film of rare sincerity and heart in animation. It encapsulates my contradictory feelings about the omnibus as a whole, which addresses tough subjects that should be addressed in animation, but often fails to do so in a way that I feel really would advance the issues. The problem is that if a film doesn't go beyond didacticism, it won't work, unless we're talking very little kids - and even then I have my doubts. Since the whole project is about getting across a message, it's kind of pointless to criticise that aspect, but it feels like its greatest weakness.

Part of the problem seems to be a failure to identify the target audience. Some of the films are aimed at very small children, and are of little interest to adults, but may therefore very well be effective with their target audience. It's just that, seen back to back with the other films, the whole feels uneven and dissatisfying. At Her House, for example, told the story of an overworked housewife very effectively using a minimum of drawn lines, no colors and few words, and did a good job of making her pent-up feelings palpable in a way that made you relate, while Flesh and Bone used CG and relied heavily on laconic narration to paint a bizarre family history of obesity using surrealistic visuals and twisted humor. Both are effective and very different films and I enjoyed them, but the target audience seems clearly different from Animal Farm, a Nick Parkish story about a goat trying in vain to join a racially exclusive pen of sheep that was clearly aimed at small children. Nonetheless, it was still a visually varied and thought-provoking film, and an interesting new take on the possibilities of the indie omnibus.