TYGER (2006) (***)

31 05 2008
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Watch the Film

This short is featured on the Animation Show Vol. 3 DVD.

Guilherme Marcondes’ experimental electronica-infused animated short mixes 2D computer animation with bunraku-style puppetry. From an amusement park on the edge of Sao Paulo, Brazil, a giant tiger emerges, controlled clearly by three shadowed puppeteers. As the striped beast stomps through the streets he creates a magical kind of chaos, transforming the humans into animals and spreading electrified vines and flowers across the modern landscape.

This ode to returning to nature has some fun with the transformations of its mindless humans. An office worker snaps into a slug. A family horking down dinner morphs into monkeys. A group of clubbers sprout feathers, becoming squawking toucans. Other inhabitants of the city are transformed as well. Cars snarled in traffic turn to slugs and a swipe with its paw at a helicopter bursts forth a flurry of birds. Marcondes mixes styles well, utilizing the tiger puppet — an older storytelling tool — as the transforming impetus in the modern world, which is animated through more high-tech means. Inspired by a poem from William Blake, the power of the beast is carried over into the short. While Blake wonders what kind of God would create the fearsome tiger, Marcondes’ film wonders what force would allow the creation of urban sprawl.

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ABIGAIL (2006) (**1/2)

31 05 2008
Watch the Film
Watch the Film

This short is featured on the Animation Show Vol. 3 DVD.

Tony Comley’s ABIGAIL won a special distinction award at the Annecy Animation Festival, a pretty nice feat for a student film. It begins with an airplane falling from the sky with its engines on fire. The passengers in coach sing cheerily “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” as they plummet to their deaths. A man longing for a woman in a photograph leaves the chaos in coach for the more refined first class, where things really get weird.

The nightmarish tale mixes tones in an off-putting way. Haunting moments are followed by jokes. Clues to the meaning are casually littered about, but as the film progresses they seem more and more random. Comley gives us little to decipher his code, leaving us to fill in the blanks for ourselves. This isn’t intrinsically bad, but without hints the viewer gets to the point where they get lost as the story twists and turns. As for the animation, the rotoscope-style, similar to WAKING LIFE and A SCANNER DARKLY, is a bit stilted.

With a lot of experimental animation, one takes what they bring in. The more obscure the references, especially when no overall theme is clear, the smaller the audience becomes. Comley says the film is about how we deal with the things we cannot control. Using that idea, which isn’t clear in the film, gives the film a discernable through line, but even that theme breaks down in cynical personal quirks.

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