Feb. 5th, 2010

mister fox

Feb. 5th, 2010 11:52 pm
egypturnash: (Default)
Went to see 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' tonight with the guys and [livejournal.com profile] otter3. It was quite a happy surprise - the whole thing had none of the forms and rhythms of an "animated movie". Even in animated features made with next to no executive interference, there are certain attitudes towards the dialogue, presentation, and pacing that I really didn't realize existed until I saw this movie, that completely ignores them; animators absorb these conventions as we study the successes and failures of our chosen form in far more detail than we do other films.

The dialogue was... I want to say more "natural", what with characters routinely almost stepping on each others' lines in a way you never see in animated flicks, but it was very artificial and crafted. Really, I think "stagey" is the word. Especially given that the overall design of the production was very flat and two-dimensional, with very obvious use of forced perspective in the sets. Characters moved back and forth in a very narrow plane, occasionally popping off-screen and back on at a different depth, now being played by smaller puppets.

The whole thing reveled in its staginess and artificiality, really. Oddly refreshing. I remember John K sneering at it on his blog solely on the basis of the "unanimatable" character designs - complex puppets covered in fur, that waves around as the animator's fingers move them about - but that just created an aura of obvious artifice. Especially when they'd do things like dig through the ground at high speed by just standing at the end of the tunnel and sort of flailing. It was not about the "illusion of life", not at all - it was very clearly and gloriously a Made Thing. With surprising amounts of emotional honesty in its story.

The animation industry could use more films like this. Films headed by people from completely outside the animation culture, who're nonetheless interested in making a good movie rather than ones piloted by bean-counters from outside who want to make something safe. Because while I knew some of the DIsney conventions existed, I never knew how many other ones I'd internalized until I saw this film.

I want to see more animated features that are not weighed down by "cartoon" writing.

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