Before the Oscar buzz dies down, it’s worth taking a look at those films that were in the Best Animated Short section, if only for the convenient fact that you can view them on youtube.
Meme les pigeons vont au paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven).
This stop-motion piece opens with some classy music and shots of an old fashioned car roaring along a rain-drenched road, all of which suggest we are about to witness a 1920s murder mystery. It cuts however to a cute little character; that of a tiny old man in his rustic countryside cottage. He is about to encounter a scheming salesman hellbent on selling a contraption that gets people to heaven the easy way. Although it seems sweet at the beginning, this film has a dark sense of humour at its core and we are left with a surprising twist in the tale. If not quite as engaging as some of the other pieces, it is, nevertheless, a pleasure to watch.
I Met the Walrus.
“In 1969, fourteen-year-old Jerry Levitan snuck into John Lennon’s hotel room with his tape recorder and persuaded him to do an interview.” ‘I Met the Walrus’ depicts through animation the words of John Lennon as recorded by Levitan. It is simplistic in style with swirling lines and plenty of movement. Watch as this animation comes to life, following Lennons every word.
Madam Tutli Putli.
‘Madam Tutli Putli’ is an extraordinary piece. If ‘Even Pigeons Go to Heaven’ opens like a ’20s murder mystery then Madam TP herself resembles a character straight out of an Agatha Christie book. Yet the beginning of the film, wherein Madam TP awaits a train, speaks more of sci-fi, while the resulting train ride appears so yellowed and old fashioned, watching it is more like looking through an old storybook. Yet the themes are far from childish as Madam TP, an elegant proper lady finds herself in her carriage surrounded by various men who attempt to put her in her place. Soon the dangers multiply and we are drawn into a vicious need to escape on TP’s part. The ending involves a nice moment with a moth, strangely enough, but this idea was already used in Bunny (the Oscar winner in 1998) so does not make such an impact here.
‘My Love’ is another short by Alexander Petrov who created ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ which itself won an Oscar back in 1999. Petrov has to be admired for the amount of work he puts into his projects. Petrov paints on glass using oil paints and then photographs each still. ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ took a painstaking three years but it looks so magical, it’s worth the effort. ‘My Love’ took the same amount of time to complete and is just as worthy of the praise it receives. Set in 19th century Russia, it tells the story of a teenage boy who falls in love with two different women.
Peter and the Wolf.
This year’s Oscar winner, ‘Peter and the Wolf’, based on the story of the same name, is another stop motion project, which captures the essence of the story beautifully even without an ounce of dialogue. It does contain the famous soundtrack however, performed by The Philharmonic Orchestra. Below is a snippet of the film. All the above can be viewed on youtube with the exception of ‘I Met the Walrus’ of which only the trailer seems to be available.