Saturday, 17 February 2018
Ethel and Ernest is a 2016 British Animated film made by Raymond Briggs who is well known for the Snowman, a classic British animation.
The story of Ethel and Ernest is about Briggs' parents and their relationship from start to finish and their struggle through World War 2. Ethel is from a working class family, although she likes to think she's not, working for a wealthy family as a maid. She spots Ernest cycling past where she works on a daily basis. Each day Ernest, also from a working class family which he embraces, waves to Ethel as he cycles past. On the 5th day he turns up with flowers and this is the spawn of their relationship. The rest of the film follows on from this, following them as they get new jobs, a new house, and a child. The child being the writer of the film Raymond Briggs. A lot of the film shows Briggs' career choices going against what his parents wanted as they got him into a grammar school and wanted him to do something academic, while Briggs' just wanted to study art and become an animator. The film carries on through until the end of their lives with a rather sad ending.
Raymond Briggs, from England, is an author, illustrator and cartoonist who is well known in Britain and abroad for his animated films and shorts. His most well known piece of work The Snowman is a Christmas classic in Britain. Briggs' pursued cartooning from an early age as he knew it was what he wanted to do for a career. He studied at Wimbledon School of Art to refine his skills. After serving in the military for 2 years he pursued a career as an illustrator for children's books. He started gaining attention for his works. In 1982 the adaptation of his wordless cartoon called The Snowman was released as an animated Christmas short, despite it not being originally intended as a Christmas film, yet for many who enjoy it it is seen as a hallmark tradition of Christmas in England. Since then he has had various comics and books turned into shorts or films, most notably Fungus the Bogeyman, When the Wind Blows, and Ethel and Ernest.
The film was produced by a team of animators from Cloth Cat Animation with help from Raymond Briggs. It used a mostly 2D hand drawn animate style with the use of 3D sets and hand drawn textures. This style provides a nostalgic feel and the use of 3D mainly noticeable in war scenes provides a more realistic effect whilst still maintaining the nostalgic feel and hand drawn 2D style even within 3 dimensions.
The film premiered on BBC One and received largely positive reviews. Many people saw the film as evocative of basic human emotions and portrayed a typical working class family in Britain of the time making it relatable to many people from Britain. The animation was seen as very supportive of the story and style of story telling.
Monday, 5 February 2018
Thursday, 1 February 2018
Waltz with Bashir is an Israeli feature-length animated documentary film released in 2008 and written and directed by Ari Folman. It was one of the first two feature length animated films from Israel.
This film revolves around Ari Folman, a veteran of the Israeli Defence League in the 1982 Lebanon war, trying to remember the events that happened he had forgotten about or suppressed. This search is triggered when he meets his old friend from that period of time who is having trouble dealing with the events that happened. Folman can't remember the events but has a 'vision' after seeing his old friend. Though this vision isn't clear to him so he begins to search for answers to try and remember his suppressed memories by talking to people who were also veterans of the war and might have been in the same places as him. The memories he found to have suppressed were regarding the Sabra and Shatila massacre, where Israeli forces lit up the camps with flares allowing the Christian Lebanese Phalange Militia to carry out a massacre on Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites. This is quite a controversial part of the war, as although the IDF weren't directly responsible for the massacre they were complacent in its happening and it wasn't really recognised for its atrocities until years after. The film explores Folman's guilt at allowing the gruesome massacre to happen.
Walts with Bashir was written and directed by Ari Folman as well as Folman being the main character of the film. It was his first animated film but not his first piece of filmography. His first notable piece of work was his documentary Sha'anan Si, released in 1991. Through his career he has directed live action fiction, documentaries and animations. It can be seen that Waltz with Bashir was Folman's way of addressing his own feelings from the war and exploring how others saw the war and if others had the same guilt that he had over the massacres.
The animation for this is purely based around the voices. Before starting any of the animation all the voices had been recorded for the entire video. It uses a graphic novel style of drawing with 3d elements. Because of this mix of styles the film has often been confused with rotoscoping which is quite understandable. When watching the film the style reminded me of something in between Archer and A Scanner Darkly, so I originally thought that every few frames had been rotoscoped then animated in between, but it turns out a lot of it was made Adobe Flash, which explains why the film took 4 years to animate. It is unusual for an entire documentary to be animated as it's just rarely done. However it is clear that this style provides a lot for the format of this documentary, being able to cut seamlessly between present day and the war, while showing how he was suppressing his true memories of the war and was essentially in denial. In one scene he arrives at the Beirut Airport and believes it is a fully functioning airport full of tourists, active plane departures and plentiful shops, but then he realises the airport is largely in ruins, all the planes are wrecked and the stores looted. Being able to slip seamlessly between these two is one of the benefits of this animation style.
Waltz with Bashir received largely positive reviews, with many critics seeing the film as original and innovative, with many citing the animation style over a documentary format as the reason for its innovation. The film was produced by a fairly small production company on a fairly small budget of $2million, while it managed to gross over $10million worldwide, showing that it was a success for a seemingly low budget animated feature-length film. The animation style invented by Yoni Goodman, of the animation studio responsible, was widely praised by critics for its effectiveness in this format.