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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« Mind Game: More thoughtsThe Mind Game DVD has English subs »

Thursday, December 23, 2004

09:08:33 pm , 534 words, 1016 views     Categories: Mind Game

Mind Game: First impressions

I've watched Mind Game once, and there are several things I can say for sure. I don't think I've ever had such a dizzying experience watching a full-length animated film. I don't know how to describe it; there's like a motor in my brain somewhere that's been overheated and that doesn't want to stop - it's still revving away, driven mad, out of control, pondering this and that, imparting a pleasant warming sensation. Concretely, the volume of information in the film is so vast that it begs repeated viewings. I've never seen another film like this that managed to create such a vast and convincing panorama of the entire range of human experience within such an abbreviated span of time - and do it in a way that comes across as entirely unforced and beleivable. One knows it makes sense, even if, when watching, one doesn't quite grasp what that sense is. It's as simple as a leaf, and as complex. Most importantly, I've never seen a full-length animated film that spoke to me, personally, more eloquently and powerfully purely by means of visuals than this one did. The film is, first and foremost, animated. It's an animated Ode to Joy, whose every explosively unbridled mo(ve)ment mirrors the theme of unlimited human potential. In addition, it's a great film that holds you riveted for every minute without relying on rails laid by predecessors - indeed, it shatters any notion of conventional structure. It doesn't make it easy, but it asks you to participate in the experience, and it's that much more rewarding. It's literally a storm of images, but at the same time, at the core it feels calm.

The biggest surprise for me was perhaps the gut-wrenching power of the way the human stories in the film are conveyed by the directing. There's a feeling of depth there, of personal reality, that has to be experienced to be understood. It's literally an eye-opening film. I think back on it and my eyes open wide. I try to grab a handhold and my breath catches, I don't know where to begin. It's certainly paced and structured like no other film I've seen, animated or otherwise. I can honestly say that the scene animated by Nobutake Ito is one of the most powerful animated sequences I've ever seen. Visual adrenaline. An expression of the atomic power that lurks in the human mind, the height of animated expressive potential. I came in with quite a baggage of expectations, so naturally I found much that was different from what I'd imagined. It was not the emotionally overwhelming experience that Night on the Galactic Railroad was to me personally, but this is no doubt partly because I came to the latter with no knowledge and to this one with too much. It was overwhelming in a different way, in a way that combines the emotional resonance of said film with the visual destructive power of Belladonna. I can't speak for anyone else, because this is most certainly a film that will not leave people opinionless; I can only say that to me personally it's the sort of evolutionary step I've been waiting for in animated filmmaking.

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2 comments

jfrog
jfrog [Visitor]

Wow. I’d been having a little trouble believing that Mind Game would live up to the hype, but I suppose people were probably thinking the same thing before Citizen Kane was released. Hopefully I’ll get to find out for myself soon…

12/23/04 @ 23:10
Ben
Ben [Visitor]

It’s lived up to what I expected, personally. I can predict that there’ll be lots of negative opinions of the film, dissing it for precisely the reasons I like the film. Which is fine. Just to me it was as amazing as I expected, and more.

Basically, everyone will have to make up their own mind about it. This is a pretty unique film.

12/24/04 @ 12:06