NALOT – Animation

Not A List Of Ten.

As list based stuff seems to be a web cliche I thought I would have a go…                   A NALOT is an arbitrary list in arbitrary order of an arbitrary number of things I want to mention and talk about. all a bit arbitrary.

[PREEMPTIVE CAVEAT- Warning this post contains NO climate references at all. If you are only interested in the climate issue please see the link in the menu above. Thank You]

Films. Cartoons and animations. -read on –

Early Disney.
Snow White. Fantasia. Dumbo. Pinocchio.

The Classic works of long-form animation.

There is more to the American strand of pre-war animation, Disney always had the tendency to anthropomorphise objects/animals to a over-sugary degree, but the inventiveness early on could make it acceptable…

Then there was Tom and Jerry with its exuberant exploration of ultra-violence so wonderfully parodied by Itchy and Scratchy on the Simpsons. Warner bros had a slightly different take on grafting human ‘types’ onto animals with the Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and an assorted menagerie. There are others that made interesting stuff in the response for product in the heyday of cinemas. The early age of cartoons has some innovative visuals ideas that seem to have gone out of fashion despite their arresting nature.

The response to the new need for product in the television age was less impressive in terms of animation excellence. Although the scripts could be quite surreal…

Japanese anime, the original and best.

Lots of other Manga is good, the Ghibli studio stuff is always worth a look. Some of the attraction is the different graphic style, stories and social sensibilities. The pull of difference.

Stop motion/claymation.

Wallace and Gromit and other stuff from Ardeman studios is the best known. But for an original in the field search out the Jan Svankermayer films. His version of Alice in Wonderland is quite disturbingly strange. His other short films are considerably odder. Even the early abstract stuff has a take on image, object and movement unlike anyone else.

There is a lot of choice amongst the recent CGI American films. From Toy Story to the Invincibles. Via Antz, Bugs, Wall-e. All impressive, none exceptional. Often compromised by the Disneyesque anthropomorphism imposed on inanimate objects and various animals. The innovation of computor aided animation, including the addition of perspective perhaps first used in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, did not really gain much. Even the humans are stylised, UP features two central characters that are almost but not quite entirely unlike real human people. I really don’t want to mention F……..overloaded with all the worst and almost entirely devoid of any of the best of the genre/source. And derivative of the Anime small-head big-eye trope.

Outside of that tradition there are animated graphic novels, attempts to use real action as the basis for a film where the images are derived from reality but with the ability to make artistic and stylistic modifications via computer control. Beowulf was the first full actor, scene replacement of that genera.

But the French Paris Renaissance 2021 was perhaps a more interesting take with the effort to render the whole look of the film in the form of a monochrome, often pure black/white image as if it was an ink drawing in a cheap printed comic.

Another rather less successful attempt to turn live action into an animated graphic novel was Through a Scanners Darkly. The version of the Philip K dick novel which tried to clarify the messy narrative of the book to show the plot of an undercover agent losing his mind from the drug he is trying to track to its source.
Many fans objected to this cleaning up of the story, preferring the confusion of the original as part of the atmosphere of the narrative. Rejecting the claim that the K dick style has as much to do with inadequate editing after writing on uppers.

Since at least Terminator Two the line between animation and real action has blurred. CGI has become good enough to usurp the cartoon’s ability to depict the impossible and imaginary. Photorealistic men of fire or liquid metal can be animated into live action, cars and machines transformed with the visual detail required to look ‘real’.

So perhaps It is Luddite to still value the simple graphic animation relying on the drawn line and changing shape. But all is not lost. As with so much ‘high’ culture and art these days some of its most accomplished examples reside in the world of advertising. Car adverts have long been notorious for the elegance of their visual imagery and imagination. Imaginative animation based on ‘simple’ graphical, old-fashion style is around in adverts. One of my favourite examples 0f simple but subtle animation at the present has been the series of American Express credit card adverts over the last few years. It is actually done by This duo.

(No sponsorship was offered or provided for this plug!)

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