I'd like to know what some of your favorite animated movies/films are and maybe thoughts on animation in general.
Animation, like most visual and auditory artforms, is a brand of magic to me - I know when I like something, I can recognise a reaction in me, but buggered if I can fully explain what I like about it and how it manages that. I have difficulty discussing animation (or fine art, or music) on an intellectual level because I simply lack that level of understanding to make the leap from 'this is what I like' to 'these are the artistic merits and the technical construct of the artform'.
Words and stories, I'm on top of. I get
poetical devices and verbal imagery and the power of the story on a fundamental level. I vaguely understand visual media, but on a visceral level. Music and other audio forms - not a clue. My point is: I like animation, in that I like a lot of animated pieces, but I can't properly explain why animation is superior or inferior to live action in a general case. Nevertheless, Gina asked for my favourite animated movies, and thus Gina gets.
Though I'm quite sad she didn't include serial forms in that, so I can't rave about the wonder that is Avatar.
I suspect she did this on purpose.
I'm so ignorant of animation as a media, that I'm betting you can guess which movies I'm going to talk about before I even start, because I haven't seen a whole lot. Animé as a whole I don't mind, but I have difficulty paying attention long enough to the screen to actually follow subtitles, so I haven't seen much at all, and what I have seen doesn't often press my buttons, visually.
My tastes are so vanilla, in fact, that if someone says 'animated movies' to me, I'm invariably going to come up with Disney. Now, I quite like Disney - or don't mind it - as a whole. I occasionally like a simple, uncomplicated and sweet love story with good songs, and they provide. I have a very distinct memory of going to see Beauty and the Beast
with my Dad when I was 11, and being blown away by the cinematography and the way 2D and 3D animation were combined - don't forget this is pre-Jurassic Park and CGI was relatively new. The spiral down from the chandelier during the title scene is quite rightly an iconic moment. The trouble is, of course, that as I became older, I realised just how tragic the entire story was: young girl dreams of running away and having adventures in the 'great wide somewhere', then is kidnapped, falls in love and stays with, the charming rich man in the nearest castle to her house.
So forget that movie - my favourite 2D Disney movie has got to be Mulan
. Very very probably because it's got a girl dressed as a boy, and we know how much I love that trope. The songs are great, the characters - well, we'll ignore Eddie Murphy's horrible dragon, and say that Mulan is
the only fleshed out character, but she's still awesome. She solves things her own way, she acts, not reacts, and it's she
who saves the day, making her officially the greatest Disney Princess
heroine ever. (Uh - animated: my favourite Disney heroine of all time is still live action, and a King). I vaguely wish they'd let her kill, but I guess that's too much to hope. Also - that rag doll blowing in the wind was a thousand times more effective than Frank Miller's stupid tree o' corpses.
This very blog topic came up, I think, because I mentioned that on Thursday I will be seeing the first animated movie ever to receive an X-rating in the UK: Animal Farm
. Now, I've only seen this movie once before, a long time ago, so I won't talk about it at length except to mention that I didn't realise at the time of watching it, that it was a 'movie for grown ups'. Just as I never really realised that Watership Down
, which I watched and rewatched as a young child, was not generally recommended as a kids movie.
If you haven't seen this - or read the book - then do so. It's amazing, and deep and moving and terrifying and all so very British
. It sacred the life out of me as a child - Fiver's visions, the tales of what happened to the original warren, and the totalitarian Efrafa. Sometimes I would just watch the prologue that introduced us to the mythology of the rabbits, and turn off by the time the 'realistic' style kicked in, because it was that scary for a kid.
Though, I also didn't realise Ghostbusters
was a comedy, back then, so what did I know?
Another nostalgia-ridden 'oldie' for me is Nick Park's Creature Comforts
- you know the one. it inspired a whole range of British Electricity adverts back in the days when adverts were actually good
. The audio track is a combination of interviews with zoo visitors and people talking about their own living accommodation, lovingly animated with stop motion animals to form a traditional mockumentary about zoo animals being interviewed with their lot.
Now, I know it's all the fashion for baby bats and stuff these days, but I liked Nightmare before Christmas
time. I still remember how confused and surprised I was when merchandise began appearing around Camden around what had been a secret little movie that I liked but no one ever talked about. The plot's a little weird and banal, sometimes, but it was the songs and the animation that sucked me in. Because the look of the thing is amazing, if very very Burton.
One more Tim Burton stop motion: James and the Giant Peach
. Roald Dahl books are notoriously bad to adapt to screen - for all anyone says they like the Chocolate Factory movies, no one can say they're good adaptations, and the less said about the Witches
the better. In fact, the only movie adaptation Dahl is supposed to have liked during his lifetime was another animated feature: The BFG
, but I'm pretty sure that James
would satisfy him as well. And not just because it looks suitably like a Quentin Blake picture.
With the exception of Mulan
, so far, the movies listed have been ones I love as animated movies because they just wouldn't work as live action, mostly because the characters aren't human, and the general feel is required to be something unachievable in photography, but when I first saw Toy Story
, I loved it for it's apparent realism. I actually felt at the time - and maybe I still do - that the movie would be better if we never saw the humans or dogs at all - if it was all about the toys interacting with a world very well constructed with ground breaking CGI. Of course, the plot
wouldn't work, but I love the way the toys in this movie actually look like moving, living plastic.
And finally on my list of animated movies what I like, is another fully CGI venture from the Other studio: Shrek
. This I like for almost converse reasons; it feels like a Disney-esque cartoon, and it plays with that, happily lampooning the genre by means of looking and feeling like a cross between cartoon fantasy and Real 3 dimensions. And unlike in Mulan
, Eddie Murphy actually works in this one.
And that, I think, brings us full circle.