Short Animation Blogathon: Day 1

The Short Animation Blogathon is here!

Two weeks ago, we announced it; now it’s time to follow through. All this week, we’ll be accepting submissions at p.g.grrr@gmail.com and posting links to your lists of favorite animated shorts. And what better way to start out the blogathon than with a live demonstration?

Andreas’s Hour of Short Animation

Let’s watch some cartoons! This is my attempt to mix a variety of styles, moods, and time periods into an hour-long mini-festival of beloved animation. Let’s see how well I fare…

  • The Wrong Trousers (Nick Park, 1993, 30 minutes). All three of Park’s Wallace and Gromit shorts are absolute delights; they’re charming, ultra-British, and visually witty. But The Wrong Trousers is in a category of its own. It’s a master class in short-form screenwriting, it features the most heartbreaking dog/human relationship this side of Umberto D., and its meticulous chains of cause and effect capitalize so well on the unique powers of animation. I could seriously watch it day in, day out, on a loop.
  • Frank Film (Frank and Caroline Mouris, 1973, 9 minutes). This Oscar winner compensates for its brevity with sheer density as it pours out a deluge of audovisual information about Frank Mouris’s life. It races from facet to facet, from childhood to maturity, through cars, food, sex, and socializing. Its breakneck visuals are complemented by Mouris’s deadpan narration, resulting in a painfully honest mini-macro-memoir.
  • Feline Fantasies (Bruno Bozzetto, 1976, ~6 minutes). This one’s a chapter from Bozzetto’s Fantasia spoof Allegro Non Troppo. Set to Sibelius’s “Valse Triste,” it’s a dagger to the heart of every cat lover in the audience. It can be colorful and frisky, sure, but it’s also brutally tearjerking. In fact, I don’t know if I can keep writing about it without splashing tears all over my keyboard…
  • Betty Boop’s May Party (Dave Fleischer, 1933, 7 minutes). After that emotional ordeal, you’ll want to watch something peppy. Thankfully, May Party is a dose of raw pep. It’s nearly plotless and has little to do with Betty Boop; instead, it’s a catalog of abuses, mutilations, and natural disasters turned into one big, frenetic, ritualized dance. And it’s hilarious.
  • Quasi at the Quackadero (Sally Cruikshank, 1975, 10 minutes). Sporting a heavy Fleischer Bros. influence, Cruikshank’s cult cartoon is as compulsively rewatchable as it is incomprehensible. It’s a tour through a series of impossible fair attractions—a thought illustrator, dream reader, past life viewer, time machine, etc.—courtesy of man-child/duck Quasi, his wife, and her robot paramour. Between this fundamental weirdness, the idiosyncratic line readings, and the hyperactive animation, Quasi is a sort of wacky, acid-drenched Double Indemnity that doubles as a tribute to animated shorts past and future.

I’ll wrap up with the first of our submissions. It’s “5 Best Lego Stop Motion Horror Films” by Bodhi of Old Horror Movies. I was only vaguely aware of the “brickfilm” genre before this, and Bodhi’s list is a great introduction. These block-by-block, shot-by-shot recreations are a testament to the low-budget imagination of some dedicated horror fans. So check out those videos, and stay tuned for updates throughout the week!

7 Comments

Filed under Cinema, Meta

7 responses to “Short Animation Blogathon: Day 1

  1. Jacob Canfield

    BIMBO’S INITIATION

  2. I have so much love for the Aardman movies. I’m nervous the new Pirates! one won’t live up to the joy of the shorts (I was disappointed in The Curse of the Wererabbit, myself.) Wrong Trousers has a fantastic villain, and the use of music (before all the soundtrack rights problems they had) was spot on!

  3. KC

    Funny, I was just watching Frank Film the other day. That flick means something new to me everytime I see it. That’s probably because I actually hear and see something new in all those images and words!

  4. sbbn

    Love Wallace and Gromit! Was not particularly keen on their most recent, the one that seems to be basically an extended fat joke, but everything before that is keen. THE WRONG TROUSERS is a classic.

  5. I just saw one of the Wallace and Gromit movies last weekend and it was delightful. I wonder how I can get ahold of that short except for the Internet because…I don’t have it at home now.

  6. @Joanna & Stacia: I’m sad to hear about Curse of the Were-Rabbit and A Matter of Loaf and Death, neither of which I’m seen, and I’m also nervously curious about Pirates! But whatever the quality of Aardman’s recent output, they sure had a winning streak with the three original shorts. And yes: the music and villain in The Wrong Trousers are both phenomenal, evoking and spoofing all number of genre cliches (little bit of horror and sci-fi, lots of noir).

    @Paolo: I’m not sure about the easiest way, but I hope you can track down the rest of the ’90s shorts! The other two have their strengths, too—e.g., A Grand Day Out‘s lunar pastoral is a lot more sentimental and relaxed than The Wrong Trousers.

    @KC: Isn’t it amazing? Every time you watch Frank Film you can grab onto new currents and resonances. It’s an experiment in sensory overload that really works and is infinitely rewatchable.

  7. sbbn

    I saw Were-Rabbit in the theater — my partner and I were the only ones there, and we had a blast. It’s a great movie. Loaf and Death was the one that seemed like an extended fat joke to me, it was very much missing the cheerful spark of the other stuff. I’m curious about Pirates! too, having finally seen a commercial for it.

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