Category Archives: Animation
By Spank The Monkey
I don’t go to many first nights at the opera. As I settled into my seat at the Coliseum for the UK premiere of Philip Glass’ The Perfect American, his new piece about the final days of Walt Disney’s life, I suddenly flashed back to a first night I attended twenty-five years ago. That was also at the Coliseum, and it was for another Philip Glass opera. The Making Of The Representative For Planet 8 was his adaptation of a Doris Lessing sci-fi novel, and I can remember precisely one thing about it.
Roughly three-quarters of the way through Planet 8, there was a brief pause in between sections. Outside, there was a sudden commotion, and a police car could be heard roaring down St Martin’s Lane, its siren NEE-NAW-NEE-NAWing at full volume like they used to back in the eighties. The orchestra paused, waited for the noise to die down, and then launched into the next part of the opera. This being Philip Glass, it started with a simple repeated bass figure on the strings, just a pair of notes separated by a minor third. It went nee-naw-nee-naw. The audience laugh that followed was extraordinary – a sudden burst of guffawing, which was just as suddenly truncated as everyone remembered that the composer of both of those notes was sitting in the room with them.
by Emma Street
A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman is based on Graham Chapman’s fictionalised autobiography which was first published in 1981. Chapman recorded an audio version of his book and this voice recording is used as the soundtrack to the film along with new voice recordings from John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam. Eric Idle is the only no-show from the Monty Python team.
Fourteen different animation studios worked on the project, animating separate chunks of the film. “Creatively, the different styles reflect the stages in Graham’s life.” said one of the directors, Jeff Simpson, in an interview “Also, it saves us a lot of time.”
Chapman died at the age of 48 from throat cancer. The other members of Monty Python’s Flying Circus have forged successful careers as directors, Hollywood A-list actors and the like while Chapman never had much chance to establish a career post-Python. What with being dead and all.
by Spank The Monkey
Type the name of Jan Švankmajer into YouTube during a dull afternoon at work, and you’ll be rewarded with hours of visually inventive, intellectually playful entertainment. But you’ll probably be rewarded with a P45 as well: the world of Švankmajer is – let’s emphasise this up front – quite definitively Not Safe For Work. Unless you work in a mental institution. Or an abattoir.
Czech surrealist/animator Švankmajer has been making films for close on five decades now, but for the most part they’ve been shorts: in those fifty years, he’s directed only six full-length features. Three of them have just been released on DVD by New Wave Films, and between them they provide a convenient snapshot of his strengths and weaknesses.
by Emma Street
There is probably no film studio more closely associated with fairy tales than Disney. Since the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in 1937 there has been a string of heroines in search of happily ever afters, although not without some barren spells, like the 30 years from the poor box office performance of Sleeping Beauty in 1959 until The Little Mermaid in 1989, the comeback which started a sequence that runs right up to 2010’s Tangled.
Disney heroines have changed a lot in seventy-odd years. Where once they were docile and obedient they’re now more headstrong and opinionated. If Snow White and the Seven Dwarves had been made in 2011 or The Princess and the Frog in the 1950s, the films would have turned out very differently.