Tuesday, December 23, 2008

16: The Little Match Girl

The Little Match Girl, 2006
Disney, Roger Allers

Excuse me for plucking this straight from the latest Nostalgia Critics video, but this truely is one of the best short christmas animated shorts ever.
I DARE you not to cry.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

15: Mysterious Mose

Mysterious Mose, 1930
Fleischer Studios

Being a blogger with a header like mine, you'd have thought I'd have featured a Ghost cartoon a little sooner right? Cartoon ghosts are always solid gold when it comes down to it. They're the ultimate shape shifters and the silent-thru-golden age of cartoons used them to their fullest.

Three being the magic number, I bring you three classic ghost cartoons.

I said the best till last, and I meant it. Who did spooky ghost cartoons better than Fleischer Studios?
I've credited Mysterious Mose a dozen times on the dA masterlist, it feels like I've been talking about it forever. It is one of the singularly brilliant pieces of animation the studio ever did and I don't say that lightly.

Dog Betty is merely the tip of the ice burg. A comment on the video suggests she looks vaguely Josephine Baker-esque in this version of her early incarnation. Betty was based on some of the most beautiful women of the black and white era, Clara Bow being the one she most strongly bears resemblance to, but the commenter is right, and its not JUST because of her skin tone.

This video also, sadly, contains my favourite design of Bimbo the dog. Ghost or not, he'd never look that good or smarmy again. You may just say he looks like a rip-off of the Mouse, but really, what character wasn't.

So watch and re-watch my dears, as that song never quite leaves your head.

14: Haunted House

Haunted House, 1929

Being a blogger with a header like mine, you'd have thought I'd have featured a Ghost cartoon a little sooner right? Cartoon ghosts are always solid gold when it comes down to it. They're the ultimate shape shifters and the silent-thru-golden age of cartoons used them to their fullest.

Three being the magic number, I bring you three classic ghost cartoons.

Haunted House is proof that whilst you can do something amazingly the first time, and because you have a character building in popularity, doesn't mean you should smush your hands together and make something amazing.

Skeleton Dance is one of the most beloved of all the Silly Symphonies, especially among "dark" young animators who value it's appeal of both being old (and therefore good in some jaded industry critics) and "creepy" (thus satisfying their need to be as spppoooky as possible). Which is fine and dandy. And for its time, it is very impressive, and is alot of fun to watch. It's influenced alot of "spooky" animated subjects in its time- The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, Corpse Bride- basically, anything with dancing skeletons? Owes it to this short.

And Mickey Mouse? You may have heard of him. Nothing to be sniffed at.

But Haunted House fails (like so many of the Disney Shorts) to be entertaining.
It's still worth watching, and you may disagree with me.
But it feels WAY too much like Skeleton Dance, even if it was released in the same year.

And again, another ghost cartoon with a Questionable moment- I missed it the first time, but the comments point it out.

13: Jeepers Creepers

Jeepers Creepers, Looney Tunes,1933
Robert Clampett

Being a blogger with a header like mine, you'd have thought I'd have featured a Ghost cartoon a little sooner right? Cartoon ghosts are always solid gold when it comes down to it. They're the ultimate shape shifters and the silent-thru-golden age of cartoons used them to their fullest.

Three being the magic number, I bring you three classic ghost cartoons.

Jeepers Creepers is actually one I stumbled upon whilst looking up info on a much more recent piece of animation.
Whilst Warner Brothers aren't my favourite golden-ghost cartoon studio (The Best I save for last). But as I stumbled upon it, and as Black and White Looney Tunes don't get enough love in the public eye (remember, I'm naught but a humble art student) I thought it'd be good place to start. And being the 1930's, there is bound to be some racism. But can we just look past it? Acknowledge that it’s horrible, but just appreciate it for what it is. Isn't it just nice to see Porky again?

And if you know who the voice of the ghost also voices, then no-duh. It's not all that hard to recognise.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

12: The Water Babies

The Water Babies, 1978
Lionel Jeffries

More of a mini post, and one of the many examples of your childhood playing tricks on you later in life.

Here I was, in my flu-like state, trying to think of a good cartoon to do next for the blog, because apparently I can't let myself fall back on the infamous dA masterlist, even though I do promise to archive all that on here one day. And I ALSO didn't want to record my experiences with the two movies I watched in the last two days until I'd built up the courage to say that I actually enjoyed them (believe me when I say these two movies have enough emotion surrounding them, because of the beloved subject matter behind them). And even now as I sit typing this, I have Anastasia loading in another window- and Three Bluth's in a row is ridiculous.

So as I sat wondering what to do it hit me. Water Babies.

Water Babies is another one of those movies, much like Heidi or The Little Toaster, that doesn't have a big name studio attached to them that my grandparents brought me as a child. And like Heidi or The Little Toaster, that I have blurry memories of. "Did I like it? I remember seeing it more than once, I must have enjoyed it. Wouldn't I have more memories of it if I did though? I remember THINKING it looked different- does that mean it's actually got some substance to it?"

But unlike Heidi or The Little Toaster (The former having some supremely excellent nightmarish scenes in it that I forgot about and The Little Toaster having some BRILLANT animation) Water Babies is ever so "meh".

If you follow John K's blog, you'll remember a month or so ago, he was ripping in to the Canadian's animation style. Whish-Washy and weirdly formed, Water Babies comes from Poland- one of the Canada’s of Europe. (No-offence meant to Polish or Canadians on that, I just meant in terms of style it is kind of close. Infact, part of it was done here in the UK. We’re just as weird in that case!).

Click that link at your own Peril. I can't stand musical numbers like that...anymore.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

11: Xanadu, Don't Walk Away

Don't walk away, from the movie Xanadu
Don Bluth, 1980.

Before you start whining about "Oh god, not another Bluth post" don't start getting complacent- I'm NOT that much of a fan of his. I have serious issues with his animating style (it makes me a little uneasy...queasy even).

But I watched this movie for the first time the other day, and I was struck by how much a decent piece of animation can have no effect on how terrible the rest of your movies is.

So to save you the pain of actually watching that god-awful piece of retro camp trash, just watch this one snippet. You don't even need to know the context, and believe me, you don't- I wish I could have that 93 minitues back.

And also keep in mind the human portions were proberbly rotoscoped- that is to say, traced frame for frame. Or "Photo Referenced" as Disney used to call it.

Just watch it anyway- turn the sound off if you hate early 80's sap-pop as much as I do.

This post is more of a reference post to link back to this earlier one about the music video Mary. According to sources (wiki of course, I don't follow Scissor Sister gossip, what am, 40?), the band contacted Bluth to do Mary after remembering this scene in Xanadu (which is like a 93 minitue length Scissor Sister video).

Which is fair enough I guess. It is nice to see how much better Bluth became between the passing 24 years, and these two pieces of animation are nicely enough around the same length, and are both about frolicking humans for the most part.

But you can be the judge on that.

Monday, November 24, 2008

10: Rock-A-Doodle

Don Bluth, 1991

When I said sporadically updated, I really meant it.

Now, Rock-A-Doodle was a movie I had a love-hate relationship with as a kid. It wasn't one of the many Disney’s I had. When my grandparents gave it to me, I sat there and turned the cassette over in my tiny hands and immediately asked, "Where's the Disney logo? Is this a Pirate copy?"
I was of a highly elitist mind as a child.

But then I actually watched it, and after a while, I watched it again and I actually grew to like it. I rather enjoyed the it once it got past the farm stage (I never liked farms in movies-Which is why it took me so long to like Charlottes web- I didn't like the idea of pigs talking sweetly. I'm not kidding. I actually said that to my Grandmother when we watched it together). There is a certain amount of gritty "cartoon" realism I liked about the city. I spent half my childhood living in the centre of town, and the other half in suburbia with my grandparents. I also noticed the amount of adult innuendo in the club scenes. Now I've watched it again after all these years, I was a little shocked it didn't bother me, but it’s ever so subtle.

But what I really love about this movie is that the gloopy/fluid kind of movement that Bluth uses not once bothers me. You know what I mean. The slow sweeping arm movements, the cute/smallest character with a giant hat constantly having to push it up off their eyes. It's that over exaggerated kind of style of moving that Bluth pour into every single character in every single one of his movies. When he puts it on human characters (like in Anastasia) it looks really awkward. Like they're bodies and heads are independent of their mouths and eyes. But because every one in this movie is an animal (and a humanised/anthro kind of animal without being deviantart-furry creepy) it almost just about suits them.

I still hate that hat to head ratio though.

So, I might hear you cry, "Why not feature another Don Bluth movie? This is one of his worst!" Well, it might be because this was one of the ONLY ones I saw as a kid that I enjoyed. I think everyone has seen The Land Before Time (I was FORCED into watching that every Christmas by my school, because it was one of the only tapes they had. And I still wiggled out of it by opting to read at the back of the hall instead), and All Dogs go to Heaven (What IS the fascination with that movie? Dear god it was just so boring). The only other ones I actually liked where Anastasia (which I saw in America with my cousins) and Titan A.E (...What? Why was I one of the only people that saw it that enjoyed it?!).

The truth of the pudding is that although this movie has some serious flaws (the annoying little kid/kitten being the biggest one), It's a really good escapism movie. The reason I kept coming back to it time after time was that it managed to make me actually interested in the lives of the animals involved (and mainly, I was rooting for them to get the kid back to his parents- who needs the little bastard ruining their swinging little farm with that shrill voice of his). There are engaging background design as well as character designs for most of the main cast (some big voice-acting names in there by the way; Phil Harris of Jungle Book fame as Patou and Eddie Deezen of Dexter’s Lab fame as Snipes) especially the one of Goldie- who probably helped kick start of young furries...*shudder*

Rock-A-Doodle is given alot of bad press from the poor box-office reviews as well as the over shadowing from Bluth's better known work. But if you get the chance, and you’re in the mood to sit through some surprisingly decent songs and some even better animation, then you might end up enjoying it.

Monday, November 03, 2008

09: Igor

Tony Leondis, 2008

If you followed me from my dA masterlist, then you know JUST how much I was looking forward to Igor. Being the big, wonky line loving, bug-eyed stop motion lover that I am, I took one look at the trailer and thought- Oh My God. It's a total rip-off of Burton's style.
And I LOVED it.
I loved the colours, the designs, and I was already planning in my head which toy I was gunna buy out of the characters (Brain, because he looks like Tom Servo from MST3K).

So I was so hyped when I FINALLY got to see it this weekend, despite the fact that, okay, over the months the warning signs became rearing their ugly heads.
So, okay the posters looked pretty naff, and didn't really match my expectations from the trailer... And okay, the news from Frankensteinia (which I follow religiously, for all my Frankenstein related news) that the early reviewers were really negative, and that the Toy line was cancelled was a little more than disappointing. And then just before we left to go see it, that it had only JUST made £1,110,859 was even more frightening.

But for once, I was trying to be optimistic. Perhaps it had more of a cult edge to it. Sarcasm was one of the main words that jumped out at me from the reviews and I just reasoned that Adults think that sarcasm is lost on kids. And maybe the studio was new at this, and that's why the marketing sucked (Which is true in hindsight- Apparently all they'd ever done before this is this crappy TV show).

So shoving all of that out of my mind, off we went, in the freezing cold, to see Igor on a Tiny screen with the 3 other
families that came to see it. (It's not the first time my boyfriend and I have gone to see a kids movie on a date- out first was to go see Flushed Away).

And it was...TERRIBLE.
The point of this post is not to just let me blow off steam, but it's also to try and explain why just because your movie looks cool and you have a big cast of famous actors at your disposal, doesn't mean you can just forget about pacing and scripting.

The opening sequence, in which Igor explains the world starts the unbelievably bad writing that makes an other wise decent little cute movie on the wrong path. Igor is a character that has little real charisma, so having to listen to him give exposition makes it very difficult to pay attention to why exactly the country of Malaria (Which is a COOL name for a country of Evil Scientists in any case) is in darkness, and why the once peaceful farmers are now Evil Scientists holding the rest of the world ransom. Another thing I'd like to point out here is that there is a short montage of the inventions the country has previously used to inflict terror on the world- and they're the same fricking machines you see at the very end of the movie. Lazy.

During this you also get introduced to the concept of Igors. I was rather interested into why exactly the Igors got lumped into the whipping boy position- in the original Frankenstein movie, Fritz (the igor of his day) had a
personality- he was cowardly and cruel towards things he didn't understand- he whipped the monster, and gave it it's fear of fire. He also didn't always conform to his master- he swapped the "normal" brain the Doctor wanted with an "Abnormal" brain. The next assistant in Bride of Frankenstein was a convict, and killed willingly for his master, but he lacked a hunch. I know that hunchbacks are now the common stereotype of all Mad since assistants (i.e Ala Young Frankenstein and Rocky Horror) but it's more than a little Lazy to just give ALL hunchbacks the name of Igor, and only one of them to have any sort of motivation- Fritz wanted to kill the monster, The Convict from Bride just wanted enough money to run away, and even Riff-Raff wanted to go home and have incestuous sex with his Sister.

Anyway (enough Frankenstein related fandoming). The monologue ends and we've learnt during the uncomfortable montage that Igor is a secret inventor (as you could have guessed from the get-go), and has created an immortal but suicidal rabbit called Scamper and a brain in a Jar- variously called Brain or Brian due to a misspelling on his Jar to keep him company whilst his Master mistreats him and talks disjointedly about his mother. Both of these characters are SUPPOSED to be the comic relief, and to be fair, they do raise a few small smiles, but they're rather uncomfortable and here's the main reason why.

Pacing. Not a second goes by with out someone talking, or something happening. The jokes that are made are immediately lost on everyone because some one else has already started another. Theres little to no build up and theres no room to breathe. I was constantly looking over at Luke next to me to see if he found it funny or not, but half way through the movie and we were slumped down in our seats, and my
optimism from before had vanished.

So the plot races on, and before you know it, the Doctor has a visit from his girlfriend Heidi, who is suddenly Igors love interest. She leaves almost as quickly and we don't see her again until much later. I'd just about taken that in when the Doctor dies. And so does one of the two major actors I'd actually pricked an interest in. John Clesse isn't really that
noticeable as his character is really hard to look at. One of two things that bother me aesthetically about this movie is that theres very little surface texture. Call me a harden animation nut, but after so many wonderful Pixar movies in the last few years, I've become accustomed to surface textures. And this movie has VERY little (especially towards the end- its like they gave up). Igor himself has more than the rest of the movie put together.

So the Doctor dies, and Igor is alone to create his masterpiece at last something no other Mad has ever done before- Life! Which I find strange- aren't Mad Scientists all about "Tampering in Gods Domain?"* So they go about creating the most oddly shaped woman in the history of monsters.

The Monster (or Eva) herself is pretty cute, but she would be, seeing as she essentially has the quintessentia Burton Face. Big eyes, tiny nose, and twisted lips- she could be Emily Corpse BrideSally ragdoll's cousin. She's dressed, oddly enough, as Snow White, which I thought was a little odd a first. It's the oddest choice ever, but then she does oddly enough suit the look.

The rest of the characters take this line too, virtually copying every "indie" animated and creepily designed franchise (Luke swears that the main bad guy looks like Lord Barkis from Corpse Bride and that Scamper reminds him of Ren, and I think that The King looks alot like Couch Oleander from Psychonauts).

So she comes to life. But Oh NO! She's too Nice! Instead of doing what any other self-respecting Igor in movie history has done, and poke fire in her face (come on thats obvious! every igor knows that!) They decide to get her brainwashed. I actually liked the Brainwashing scene (Nice touch with the guy with the fly head/ fly with a human head there) but the major plot point of the movie also comes from here- one that I'm still not sure I'm convinced by- Eva's
personality is the result of watching too much of the biography channel, about some woman's acting career. As such she convinces herself she's also an actress- specifically one who wants to star in Annie- thus officially becoming the most random of all Frankenstein-style monsters. This is all very well, but the pacing is SO bad in this movie that It's around here I start to loose track of whats going on, and I am only going via memory here, so lets just go straight to the end of this half hearted rant shall we?

A good animated "kids" movie needs alot of things to make it work. I'll write up a proper check list one day on what I think makes a good animated film (mainstream or otherwise). But for now just consider this.
You can fill your movie with as many stars as you want, design it as "quirkily" as possible, pump up the colours and copy ever is popular amoung the trendy dark set, but you can still fuck it up by having a poorly written script, crappy jokes and pacing it so fast your out blinking in the sunlight before you've even finished your pop-corn wondering what the heck happened.

I was sorely disappointed after waiting all summer to see this.

*(if you get the reference, then you've gotta suggest what the next cartoon I blog about).

Thursday, October 02, 2008

08: Family Dog

Family Dog Part 1
Family Dog Part 2
Family Dog Part 3
Brad Bird, 1987

Its amazing how motivated you get to watching something when you can just feel it about to get ripped into.

It's also no suprise how I know about this when in retrospect it seems pretty obscure- but I've never been very motivated to watch it because...well, I guess I'm lazy. Theres a quote floating around that Family Dog was done around the same time The Simpsons came out, and the reason it flopped was because of the gaining popularity of everyones favourite long running family.

The original short however came out as apart of a series called "Amazing Stories" in 1987, and thats what I'm going to talk about.

With it's quirky design and lovely character animation, not to mention very interesting voice direction, Family Dog would proberbly be just as big a cult hit even if it wasn't attatched to Tim Burton's name (Who apparently produced and helped design the characters- which I believe. If you watch Vincent, the dog looks just the same- in fact he draws all his dogs like that. And the Mother has lips like all his female characters- in his drawings at least).

And, because I can do what I please- I very much enjoy the quaint little soundtrack as well, done by a very young (at the time)and talented man by the name of Danny Elfman.

Oh yes.

I went there.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

07: Bedshaped, Keane / Butterfly

Bedshaped, Keane
Corin Hardy, 2004

When I think of my favourite animated music videos I think in particular of this one. I saw this when I was 14 and I was just starting to wonder about what I wanted to do with my life, and an absurd idea forming in the very back of my head whispered "I want to do THAT."

Bedshaped is one of many creepy stop motion videos that are floating around out there. Another one that pops to mind is Insanity (Which I have pondered blogging but it seems redunant seeing as I love the song more than the mind-boggling video), but of course this is a full on model based animation, rather than toys.

What I didn't know about Bedshaped at the time is that the models and the story ( I haven't seen the whole movie yet but I really want to now) is that they're from a previous movie directed by Corin Hardy.

In the interests of being a good blogger I found the trailer, and oh my...is it beautiful. When you watch Bedshaped you always wonder what the rest of that world is like outside the stall, and the trailer gives you a very good idea of what horrors are out there.

It's a very perfectly imperfect style. It's a very fine-artsy approach to an unrealistic world. Stop motion in general is supposed to be Jerky and incomplete movement, which is what gives it its charm. When you watch old movies like Jason and the Argonauts for example, especially the scene with the skeletons, you get the feeling the animator is trying too hard to be realistic. When you watch the tears fall jerkily from Boy's face in Bedshaped, you geniunely feel sad but its detatched in a way that feels real.

Heartbreakingly beautiful...I only hope that I can achieve such a wonderful work of art one day.

Go to Colin Hardy's Myspace to find out about more of the music videos he's produced for some very popular english bands.
Or to his website.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

06: Flowers, Emilie Simon

Flowers, Emilie Simon
Cosa Productions, 2003

Oh god is it hard to find information about this video- I've had problems with it before, and its what made me give up the dA version of this blog. But that's all behind me now. I have completed the task, after completely forgetting everything the first time I tried finding it all out- I just ended up going back to the exact same blog I got the production company name from the last time. Oy Vey...
Anyway, Flowers is possibly my favourite video I've stumbled across this year. And it's easy to see why right? I'm only going to mention the Burton connection ONCE because its everywhere else I've come across people going on about it. YES it has that creepy cuteness that His Stopmotion pieces have- a child could point that out.

Being a music video, it has ALOT more detail, and dare I say skill in it. I'm also going to throw it out there and ask; Is this ACTUAL stop motion? I rather want to disagree, because even if it is only 2:47 long, Stop motion has a hell of alot of work involved. Considering the small amount of time between single release and the video coming out, I'm gunna say no. It's a very masterful imitation of StopMotion but it just can't be- Look how long Coraline is taking!

The video features some stunning settings, and has a very charming feel around it which echoes the timeless yet modern music. And has some very cute and creepy character design. Including...
...A Frankenstein Monster who plays the upright bass...
...A werewolf on the guitar...
...A Vampire on the Keyboards...

...And this guy who I love, but does nothing but play with his steampunky toys.

It's a beautiful video, and I urge you too go take a look- or if you've already seen it, another.
That song will stick in your head all evening.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

05: BeetleJuice; Second TV Opening

BeetleJuice, Second Opening

This post could border on the ranting side slightly, but you know, it’s only really when this show gets knocked into the same category as some of the worst 1980's animation that I get defensive. I have to try and defend this as much as I can without letting my Burtonite instincts get the better of me.

I, like many, follow John K and Cartoon Brew. And as much as those Blogs are a wealth of information, I tend to disagree with alot of the opinions from John and Amid (of course, I should probably just bow down and accept they know alot more than I do. But fuck that, this no-body has an opinion, and I'm going to HAVE it damn it). Certainly this is already starting to tread ever so slightly into the ranting side of things, so I'll cut this train of thought off now, and just say this entry is meant to disagree strongly with the fact that the BeetleJuice cartoon is being lumped in with the bad animation stick currently in John's latest tirade of "Everything that’s good has to be made before the 60's and NOTHING ELSE HAS ANY CHARACTER WHATSOEVER" blah. (That wasn't an attack of any kind by the way, but you look at his posts objectively and just tell me he's not tooting that horn).

Anyway, BeetleJuice the TV show. Well, if your looking at this show from a design point of view, then you'd better be prepared to accept the fact that the show follows the mantra that most Burton movies (Especially in the case of his stop-animated features); Duality. All that is Alive and Pleasant is flat, boring and incredibly dull. Characters are dressed in Pastel and the shapes are either round (Lydia's father) and subdued, or Sharp and angular (Lydia's stepmother). All that is Dead and Strange is much more detailed, they leave trails of dust or colour, and the shapes are more complex. In the way of backgrounds, things follow the same rule. The Living world is set out in the country and suburbia and everything is fairly straight, ordered- the land of the dead (or Neitherworld) is a parody of that. The roads float in a greenish or orange haze, and therefore every building and person then contrasts strongly against those colours.

I love this show, but I have to say that it's actual writing sucks. Pun-based humour is only good when used sparingly. All the characters are dumped down to be kid-friendly from the movie and two of them are missing all together (The step-mother aspect is removed entirely because apparently that dynamic was seemingly too much for kids? And whatever DID happen to the Maitlands? Why is Lydia suddenly 13 years old? What made them think having her hang out with an adult male ghost was a good idea?).
However, As much I dislike gross-out humour it was rather cutely used in the show, and Lydia is still one of the most Iconic Goth Girls of our time (a stereotype I'd rather like to explore in later posts), and BeetleJuice...is pretty much one of my favourite cartoon characters ever.

Monday, September 08, 2008

04: Shiva, Austin TV

Tandem Post with 03: Viva Calaca!!
Shiva, Austin TV
Alberto Cerriteño, 2008

I paired this one for this Tandem post (in that I'm writing the two posts together, and the two posts have pretty direct comparisons) with Viva Calaca!! for several reasons.

First of all, the two are both illustrative flat motion style music videos. Whilst Viva was done for a personal project, Shiva was a paid gig. And I do think it makes all the difference. For instance, the detail is so much more evident and secondly is alot smoother moving- partly methinks, because the animator had someone else to help that part of the job while he could focus more on the more tedious design aspect.

Also, Skeletons.
The designs are wonderous and the animator's blog has alot of the individual parts saved on his blog, so do go have a look.
Viva Drawn!

03: Viva Calaca!!

Tandem Post with 04: ShivaViva Calaca!!, Voltaire
Ritxi Ostáriz

I paired this one for this Tandem post (in that I'm writing the two posts together, and the two posts have pretty direct comparisons) with Shiva for several reasons.

First of all, the two are both illustrative flat motion style music videos. Whilst Shiva was a paid gig, Viva was done for a personal project, and I do think it makes all the difference. For instance, the detail is very beautifully done as is the character design, but in comparison to Shiva, Viva's detail is hard to make out because the rate of the "camera" swings around its almost impossible. This however, could just be a personal quibble at best, because alot of Ritxi's work has the same kind of movement. It makes me a little sea-sick to be honest. And although I do love this video, I do prefer the story telling of Shiva to this one in retrospect.

But then skeletons make everything better.

Be sure to visit his website to check out his other videos.
Via Drawn!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

02: Mary, Scissor Sisters

Mary, Scissor Sisters
Don Bluth, 2004

Animated music videos are usually a really good estimate of how good the animator is. Because usually the animator won't have a structured storyline or plot to rigidly follow, but rather a vague idea of what the band wants. Then you have to factor in how much money is being thrown at it- usually its not that much. At the end of the project you come out with around 2-3 minutes of animation that probably months and months has gone into. Singles, especially these days have a limited shelf life, and with supposed Music Channels like Mtv moving on to more mainstream "entertainment" rather than actually showing music videos, and other channels following suit, and Animated featurette is going to catch people attention- even if its rubbish. But of course, if that music video is good, it'll live on through requests and classic video reruns, or even in the back of our heads.

Of course, Mary has the wow factor. But would you expect less of Don Bluth? His distinctive, edgy-Disney (if you'll pardon the comparison) has been used to great effect in alot of my childhood favourites; Rock-a-Doodle (1992), Anastasia (1997) and Titan A.E (2000) aren't exactly Disney level in terms of popularity perhaps, but I know for certain I'm not the only one who remembers them (Yes, I COULD mention All Dogs go to Heaven, but I really didn't enjoy it as a child, so I never mention it). So a familiar style that draws in all the kids of my Era.

Then there’s the quality of the animation itself. All the backgrounds are simple and look a little weird in comparison to the actual characters- but I think that’s because they look a bit too bright- I would have toned the contrast down a touch but they look fabulous because their such parodies of the medieval style fairy tale backgrounds- like the ones in Sword and the Stone for example. And I love the tower and the outside of the castle...it looks all mysterious and foreboding but still whimsical.

The characters themselves- I have no idea what going on with the three troll women (I do love them, but they don't have as much character as the humans do), but "Mary" and her rescuer remind me alot of Anastasia’s humans, and they have that really lovely pretty but flawed feel about them, which makes them alot more interesting to watch than say any of the Disney princesses and their card-board cut out princes'.

I really could have sat through a full-length movie of this. As it is, Mary is a lovely insight into the daydreams of a bored and lonely office worker- and one of my favourite Animated music videos.