Posted by: GeekHiker | June 4, 2009

Friday Sillyness: Cartoon Style

I went out tonight, pretty much on a spur-of-the-moment whim, to see “UP” tonight.  Needless to say that I enjoyed it, given the time and effort that Pixar clearly puts into each film they make.  Seeing it in 3-d was a nice touch, though the film works just as well without the added “gimmick”, if you will.

Prior to the film, they showed a couple of previews for other animated films (all in 3-d, natch).  Perhaps I should add, all computer animated films.  Some looked good, some merely passable.  I think, for all of Pixar’s success, they’ve created a problem: the belief in format over story.

It seems that all the studios have come to the belief that if the film is computer animated, it will be a success.  Traditional animation, apparently, spells doom.

This, I think, is a shame.  Traditional forms of animation, be it hand drawn or stop motion, can yield beautiful results.  It’s the story that counts, not the form.  Don’t misunderstand me: I love the look of Pixar’s films.  But the reason they work is the time spent crafting the story behind them.

Sometimes I wish there were more variety in the animated world, I suppose.

Anyway, going through some old magazines last night, I ran across an old copy of Animation Magazine from my college days.  Flipping through it, I found pictures of award-winning shorts that I remembered from my film-school classes.

Then I found them on the web.  So I thought I’d share.

I’ll start with Bill Kroyer’s “Technological Threat“, a 1988 Academy award nominee that combines traditional animation with some rudimentary computer animation.  It’s brief, but humorous.

A pretty chilling stop-motion interpretation of an old European folk tale, Paul Berry’s 1994 “The Sandman” is dark, twisted, and dammed effective.  (Don’t worry too much about the kid, he’s doing those Puff’s tissue commercials now!)

Daniel Greaves 1991 Academy Award winner “Manipulation“, a combination of animation and stop motion, is a little hard to see in this link, but worth the watch.  It’s also an exercise in cruelty against… paper.

Balance” by Christoph and Wolfgang Lauenstein is a rather intriguing stop motion piece, and proof of not always getting what you wish for.  It won the Academy Award in 1990.

Unfortunately, I can’t post a link to Bill Plympton’s “Your Face” as his animations aren’t online.  But you can rent “Plymptoons“, a collection of his shorts on DVD from Netflix, and I highly recommend it.  (Many fond memories of attending Spike & Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation associated with that one.  Those of you who know, know. 🙂 )

I’ve saved the best for last.  If you skip the above, be sure to watch this last one.

I don’t know that the digital copy of Frederick Back’s “The Man Who Planted Trees” does this 1/2 hour short justice.  Still, the soft beauty of the film done, as I recall, in charcoal & wax on paper, comes through.

(A little trivia: Christopher Plummer, who voices Charles Muntz in “UP”, is the voice of the narrator in “The Man Who Planted Trees.”  The difference in delivery is amazing.)

The film is based on a short story of the same name.  It’s artistry is amazing (I highly recommend watching it full-screen), and the tale will leave you wanted to leave the city and depart for the countryside and clean air.  At the very least, you’ll want to plant a tree.

It’s gorgeous, and well worth watching.

Happy Friday.



  1. I heart Christopher Plummer! He’s Canadian, you know? 😉

  2. apart from Up I enjoyed the Pixar short Partly Cloudy

  3. If I heard correctly, Disney’s movie with the first Black princess is hand-drawn. I am not sure what kind of looks you’ll get going to an animated story but a little Black princess, but I’ll fly out if you need a buffer.

  4. Mrs Chuck Bartowski – Aren’t we all Canucks at heart?

    3d Animation Studio – I’ve always rather liked the shorts. Wish they managed to do more!

    TheCoconutDiaries – Well, I can’t say princess stories are exactly my “thing” but, sure, come on out!

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