Films by Malcolm Sutherland

A couple years back, Montreal-based animator Malcolm Sutherland picked up a copy of my book Cartoon Modern at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. He wrote to tell me that, “A year or so later it inspired a short film as a present to my mom for Christmas, called Great Ambition.” The short is based on a vintage recording called “The Arizona Yodeler” performed by the DeZurik Sisters (aka the Cackle Sisters), and it’s a lovely example of how to capture the spirit of stylized Fifties animation using contemporary production tools:

Sutherland just completed a short called The Astronomer’s Dream, which is in a different style that is more lush and illustrative. A description of the film: “When a hungry astronomer falls asleep while working on a problem, he discovers a solution not in outer space, but in the surreal food-chain of his subconscious mind.” Viewers who enjoy the film below can purchase a DVD of ten of his animated shorts plus bonus materials, directly from his website.


  • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Sketchees

    I saw this at a screening here recently and was really in awe of the linework. It’s very illustrative and graffic novel-y.

    The Great Ambition song was very cute too. It’s amazing what a great little ditty can do for animation.

    Congrats Malcom.

  • http://www.chogrin.com Chogrin

    These are fantastic! The Astronomer’s dream blew me away! The amount of details that’s on everything is what 2d animation should be achieving for nowadays! Congrats!

  • top cat james

    Was bowled over by the charm of the”Ambition” short. If you didn’t reveal it’s orgin, I would have believed it to be one of the musical segments of “The Gerald McBoing Boing Show” from 1956. Great job!

  • http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/ Nina Paley

    Count me as a new fan. Great Ambition is charming, and Astronomer’s Dream blew me away. I’m also favorably biased toward independent animators who experiment with multiple styles.

  • http://tomboycomics.blogspot.com emily

    Thanks for sharing, Amid. These films have very different styles and are equally inspiring. Love the colors in both films. Will look Malcolm up soon! Thanks.

  • Iritscen

    I’ve never been a big fan of Flash animation, but the style in Astronomer’s Dream, with all its detail, really helped sell his vision to me. Cool stuff!

  • http://dailygrail.com/blog/8389 red pill junkie

    Ambition was cute, and Astronomer’s well… I didn’t understand a god-damned thing, but I think it’s a great short. I also like the fact that it seems to be influenced by Mayan glyphs… perhaps Malcolm is revealing to us the secret behind the 2012 prophecy?? ;-)

  • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Sketchees

    I’m not sure Astronomers Dream was done in Flash, i could be wrong(*after effects maybe?)

    Also, to correct my horrible spelling, i meant graphic novel-y(*I was thinking of graffiti at the time. My bad)

  • sporridge

    Many of us had our first listen to “The Arizona Yodeler” when Oxford American magazine included the track on one of their annual (and quick to sell out) Southern music samplers. Been fascinated with the tune ever since, some amazing vocal gymnastics (wonder if Yoko Ono’s ever heard it?). Malcolm Sutherland’s done the tune justice with his most clever animation.

  • http://janetperlman.com Janet Perlman

    Fantastic! “The Astronomer’s Dream” reminds me of “Chariots of the Gods” by Erik Von Daniken. Must … remember … before …get brainwashed … again …

  • doug holverson

    Astronomer’s Dream makes me think of a Jim Woodring-type story animated in a Klasky-Csupo-type style.

  • Robert Schaad

    Very cool. Style, etc. of Great Ambition really harkens back to the best of ’50s-’60s modern animation, and Astronomer’s Dream had an amazing amount of detail.

  • http://www.rocarts.com Meredith

    Loved both shorts. Can anyone tell me how someone who would like to try animation can get public domain music clips like this to use in personal projects?