Posts tagged ANIMATION
Review: Emerald City Comic Con 2019

The Emerald City Comic Con attracts guests of upwards of 100,000 fans and 100s of celebrity guests from the worlds of fantasy, science-fiction, animation and gaming. Now in its fifteen year, the three day event – of which we had the pleasure of attending just one day – is professional in every sense of the word, and worthy of every connotation it denotes.

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Notes from an Angry Queer: Compulsive Heteronormativity in How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)

All too often, when a new game or film or television show that includes the barest representation of the LGBTQ+ community is announced, an inevitable, angry chorus of cisgender, heterosexual people shout out in unison: I’m fine with gay people, but why do you have to shove it down my throat like this? Thankfully, the media producers in question usually forge ahead, much to the delight (or chagrin – no one piece of media is perfect) of the LGBTQ+ community. But then, if even the smallest crumb of queer representation is enough to make cishet people choke, then is the same true for a queer person forced to navigate society’s constant stream of compulsive heteronormativity?

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Creating People Cat People

My name is Eric Polley, and I am the creator of People Cat People (2018-). People Cat People is an animated web series that focuses on the day-to-day lives of the characters of a small group of feline humanoids that inhabit a fictional planet called the People Cat People Planet. There is no main character or single overarching plot line. Instead the series focuses on several shorts that aim to introduce and resolve conflict within one standalone episode.

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Laika and the Two Worlds: Deconstructing the Illusion of Stop-motion Animation

André Bazin’s “Ontology of the Photographic Image”  states that “the photograph as such and the object in itself share a common being, after the fashion of the fingerprint” (2005: 15). For Bazin, the fingerprint is symbolic of an imprint of the material object; the finger. Yet I cannot help but think of this symbol of filmmaking when I watch stop-motion animation – a process by which an animated world is created; often out of clay but also other materials, and brought to life by a series of photographs documenting miniscule movements to imitate life.

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Fantasy and the Re-Animation of Othered Cultures

The intersection of fantasy and animation is increasingly also an intersection of nationalities and cultures. The world’s best known animation studios often look beyond their own cultures for inspiration, exploring and representing people, mythologies and folklore from across the globe. Japan’s Studio Ghibli, for example, frequently adapt Western sources, creating fantasy-inflected variations on European countries (Howl’s Moving Castle [Hayao Miyazaki, 2004]) or indeterminate settings bearing both Japanese and European influence (Kiki’s Delivery Service [Hayao Miyazaki, 1989]; Arrietty [Hiromasa Yonebayashi, 2010]; When Marnie Was There [James Simone & Hiromasa Yonebayashi, 2014]).

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The Fantasy of Animated Documentary?

When I attended the BFI launch of the book edited by the estimable conveners of this blog, Chris Holliday and Alex Sergeant’s Fantasy/Animation, I was that annoying person in the audience to ask the first, really obvious, question. Admittedly one that betrayed the fact that I hadn’t yet read their book (something now, ahem, rectified) and also my own research interests and agenda. Isn’t all animation, due to its constructed nature, in some way fantasy? And if so, if animation implies fantasy and fantasy implies animation, I queried, where does that leave animated documentary? And that, dear reader, is how you find yourself pressganged into writing a blog post…

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Documenting Fantasy: The case of the animated mockumentary The Last Dragon (2004)

If animation and documentary make an anomalous couple, fantasy, animation and documentary make an extremely far-fetched threesome. Yet, in Justin Hardy’s mockumentary The Last Dragon (2004) they conjoin. This TV movie purports to be a partially animated documentary that attests to the existence of one of fantasy’s iconic symbols: the dragon. More precisely, the film takes the form of “an evolutionary natural history “what if?”” (Foley in Murray 2005: 67) documentary that, similarly to Peter Jackson and Costa Botes’ staple live-action mockumentary, Forgotten Silver (1995), is composed of two interwoven stories.

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‘Wonderland Drama with added Kitchen Sink’: Electricity (2014)

I have to admit that the first time I watched Electricity (Bryn Higgins, 2014) I was not prepared for my emotional response.  This was not only because the film presented its subject material and female protagonist in a compelling way, but also because it appeared to chime with my own research interests into fantasy genre and British cinema (Fig. 1).  I was later delighted to contribute a chapter on the film to the Fantasy / Animation collection, as it certainly embraces both themes, and challenges existing ideas and preconceptions attached to aesthetics, genre and national cinema.

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Inventing Yourself: The Cinema of Robert Zemeckis

Several years ago I had the good fortune to interview the animator Barry Purves about his work. He made the point that if you give a person a mask it’s only then that they’ll you the truth about themselves. This interplay between playfulness and truth certainly has a vital role in one of Robert Zemeckis’ most fascinating moviemaking achievements: Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). Amidst all of that film’s visual spectacle and invention, its protagonist, the sombre gumshoe Eddie Valiant, learns to laugh, play and imagine once more. Whilst Zemeckis’s movies are largely synonymous with the genres of fantasy and science fiction, a little more reflection on them suggests that these entertainments are exploring subjective experiences. Zemeckis’s films have often deployed animation and the principles of the medium as part of the cinematic world-building toolkit.

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Reimagining the Hollywood Teen Movie: Animation, Fantasy, and Teenage Subjectivity

At first sight, Alex Strangelove (Craig Johnson, 2018) starts as a predictable genre film, part of a growing cluster of Netflix teen movies such as The Kissing Booth (Vince Marcello, 2018) and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Susan Johnson, 2018) available on the streaming platform. It opens with a montage sequence replicating what Roz Kaveney terms as the “anthropology shot” (Kaveney 2006: 56): students representative of social groups and cliques are introduced, as in the opening scenes of 10 Things I Hate About You (Gil Junger, 1999) and Not Another Teen Movie (Joel Gallen, 2001).

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When Hobbits Go Bad: Ralph Bakshi the Fantasy Provocateur

When Christopher Holliday and I first conceived of Fantasy/Animation: Connections Between Media, Mediums and Genres, the animator Ralph Bakshi sprung to mind immediately as an example of an individual whose work I thought would benefit from the methodology we were hoping to inspire within both our edited collection, and through future collaborations on this research network. If you are unfamiliar with who Bakshi is, chances are you are nonetheless a fan of either an animator or live-action filmmaker who has been inspired by his productions.

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Stitching Sound - How to Create Your Own Monster Soundtrack

For the most part the evening air, schools and events will be peppered with the sounds of those going about their Halloween business. You might engage with one of the many cinematic offerings or a spooky audio drama where the images evoke terror but more importantly the sound of classic horror.  In the year where we celebrate 200 years of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), written when she was 19 years old, you may even revisit or be introduced to classic horror via the sounds of the monster’s re-animation. The classics we refer to are usually remembered as a visual feast evoking terror but the sound of the film adaptations of Frankenstein also deserve their place in the homage to horror classics.

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Review: The House with a Clock in Its Walls (Eli Roth, 2018)

The House with a Clock in Its Walls (Eli Roth, 2018) marks director Eli Roth’s first foray into family-friendly fantasy, following a career established largely within horror cinema thanks to his directorial debut Cabin Fever (Eli Roth, 2002) and the Hostel films (Eli Roth, 2005-2007), which consolidated the much-maligned and highly graphic “torture porn” subgenre as a strong current of post-millenial Hollywood (see Jones 2013; Kerner 2015). Alongside Death Wish (Eli Roth, 2018) released in March of this year, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is also Roth’s second feature to hit cinemas in 2018.

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Animation, Fantasy and the Disney/Pixar Dilemma

The shifting place of fantasy within contemporary animation allows us to make some preliminary discriminations about how fantasy’s own icons and images function in relation to the shaping of Hollywood studios and their brand identity. The continued business strength of the U.S. animation industry in the post-millennial period thanks to Pixar Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation and Blue Sky - as well as the parallel renaissance of Disney Feature Animation - has provided a growing number of critically and commercially successful test cases that showcase where fantasy does (and does not) appear in popular animated media, but also how fantasy has become a default and highly durable viewing strategy utilised by audiences in determining the precise terms of studio authorship.

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The Fantastical Sonic Ambience: Disney Creating Worlds With Music

Imagine if films had no music, would the cinematic medium survive the way it has today? While music can be used as an aesthetic component that enhances the film experience, is also a storytelling device and a language that serves similar purposes to the verbal language in the film context, although it is rarely perceived as such.

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“Something Gruesome and Horrible and Real Gory…But Kinda Cute”: Violet Newstead’s Snow White Fantasy Sequence

These days, I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (David Hand, 1937). Call it a professional interest during its eightieth anniversary year. But here, rather than talk specifically about Snow White, instead I would like to look at my favourite non-Disney reference to it: Violet Newstead’s (Lily Tomlin) Snow White-themed revenge fantasy in the 1980 Feminist political comedy classic 9 to 5 (Colin Higgins, 1980).

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The Trouble with Reiniger?

Over the last eighteen months or so myself and Katharina Boeckenhoff (University of Manchester) have been engaged in archival research on the German animator Lotte Reiniger for a project about craft and animation. During that time I was grateful to be asked to write a chapter in Fantasy/Animation: Connections Between Media, Mediums and Genres on Reiniger by Christopher Holliday and Alexander Sergeant. While this chapter was not directly informed by the archival research we had been involved in, it raised a number of interesting thoughts and potential challenges that informed my writing.

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Review: Saving Christopher Robin - A Review of Two Winnie-the-Pooh Films

In the past twelve months, cinema audiences have been treated to not one, but two films based on the eponymous children’s book character, Winnie-the-Pooh. Both focus on male protagonists and explore the psychological effects of growing up and the responsibilities associated with adulthood. Both are live action dramas with frequent forays into animated fantasy sequences. And both films are British / American co-productions with a strong emphasis on the past, nostalgia and heritage.

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Making is Thinking: Writing a Fantasy Screenplay for a (hoped-for) Animated Film

Right around 2004, I speculatively wrote a feature-length screenplay. In that earliest moment of what has become a very long-running project, the core concept, at the level of theme and character types, was determined. This has now been a fourteen-year process of imagining a family film in the initial form of a screenplay (and I subscribe to the view that the screenplay is definitely not the film).

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Fantastic Products: The Phantasmagorical Appeal of Animated Advertising

This post explores the way ideas of fantasy can provide new insight into animated advertising, and applies these to analyse the recent Ikea advertisement Ghosts (2018) and its use of digital animation. Exploring the long history of a particular form of fantasy, the phantasmagoria, allows a consideration of the ghostly iconography associated with it, as well as its use as a metaphor for the workings of capitalism. 

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