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‘The External World’ by David OReilly

David OReilly debuted his latest film on-line this afternoon. The External World premiered last September at the Venice Film Festival and has been racking up awards ever since, notably a grand prize at the Ottawa International Film Festival and an honorary mention at Sundance last month. I’ll leave it at that for now, but a lengthier review of the film will be posted shortly.

  • Stephen M. Levinson

    Wow! I thought that was brilliant! Bravo David on amazing film!

  • Uni

    AUGH! That was a horrible thing to watch. I need BRAIN BLEACH, STAT!

    • AgumonKid

      I don’t think this is horrible but I do need brain bleach!

  • It was interesting enough, and as David himself noted on Twitter yesterday, it won’t be to everyone’s taste.

    I’m really not sure it needed to be 17 minutes long though.

  • DaveShine

    That was Crude. Inappropriate. Offensive. Tasteless. and Disgusting. However I did watch the entire thing and I think I enjoyed it. I don’t think it’s meant to be Laugh out Loud funny but it was interesting. I’m all for uniqueness. Animation is the best facet for imagination.

  • WOW! this is pretty amazing! Reminds me very much of the “rejected cartoon” series. Not quite as spot on humor but it makes up with its excellent animation style.

    • Brandon

      Yeah, Don Hertzfeldt’s humor was the first thing I thought of while watching this.

  • I don’t know how he’s doing that. This guy takes a bunch of the nastiest elements I can imagine, in a style I completely dislike, and shapes them into an entertaining and moving film which completely blasts me away. This film is perfect on so many levels. Everything in there is there for a reason, there’s no wasted shot. And his storytelling and editing is oh so far beyond your average cartoon. I only know a handful of other artists being on par with him.

  • Karim

    Literally blasted! refreshing to see such a thing when you get tired of the frenetic chase sequences and generic stuff I see all over the years.

    Inspiring and disturbing in many levels. Thanks for the experience.

  • Was My Face Red

    Sometimes you have to surrender to the mood of a film, even if that mood is relentless depressing. Life is cruel and absurd and then you die, but there’s comfort in seeing we’re all in it together. It was reminding me a lot of my all time favourite bleak/melancholic animated short ‘Revolver.’

  • One of my all-time favorites!!!

  • inferior to Please Say Something in every way. props to the good aesthetics but everything else is predictably “insightful” in the most juvenile way possible.

    Please say something genuinely said something about the human condition especially dealing with the nature of the repetitive nature of a long term relationship, the cut-up technic used in that film hid a genuine character arc for the cat and the mouse and the overall film worked great as a single narrative while maintaining the freshness of a witnessing it in a “new media” sense.

    It seems with External world Dave just stuffed as many provocative imagery that “provokes” (using that term lightly with a grain of salt here) the deviantart and life journal crowd to proclaim how insightful it is to see a bleeding teddy bear fucking a frog. The 4th wall breaking and irony are absolute trite in 2011.

    protip, just because it’s shocking doesnt mean it’s provocative.

    I am dissapoint.

    • Charles

      I would have thought someone who uses the phrase “I am dissapoint” would get this film.

      protip, just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean its bad.

      • Was My Face Red

        Jinnaboy, you made some very good arguments for why ‘Please Say Something’ was a better film, then spoilt it by trying to reduce everyone who still got something from ‘External World’ to a stereotype who you’re better than. I am dissapoint too.

      • Charles, i am sorry but if a person dont like sumthing he or she must think there is something wrong with it. be it on a personal or universal level.That is the true basis behind an opinion.

        sure its nice to only have nice things to say but it is also not an entirely bad thing to articulate why something doesn’t work, for me. opinions and discourse in art usually comes through best through negative responses.

      • Was My Face Red

        jinnaboy, there are lots of things I don’t like which I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with. It’s just I don’t like them because of my personal tastes and predalictions. Saying why something doesn’t work for you personally is a far better starting point for criticism than proclaiming it (and anyone who likes it) wrong.

  • Amusing, but not particularly funny, but that’s just me. The piece has all the aggressively nonsensical and frequently abstract imagery as the rest of his work; so I guess I can’t complain as I knew what I was getting in to. I’m curious as to why it’s so long though.

    I did enjoy a few of the film’s tricks though, such as the clip where an alley cat creeps up and jumps through a broken wooden fence. Unfortunately, it sort of pains me to think that the first segment I had found entertaining was ten-and-a-half minutes into the film.

  • Gobo

    I love the aesthetic, but I felt like the kid screaming and beating a drum in an art museum at 9:30 summed up the whole purpose of the film.

  • I feel like I’m at a jazz concert and everyone but me gets it. However, while I didn’t understand what was going on, I couldn’t stop watching it or laughing. Definitely entertaining. And pretty. Very pretty.

  • That is the greatest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Bravo David. You da man.

  • I thought it was great. I think of myself as being familiarized with the imagery enough to not be “shocked” by any of it. I rather got a good feel of what a pawn I am to convention.

  • Every minute of this was a pure delight. It would be great expanded to feature-length. Pleasing imagery, wonderful animation, massively effective timing/editing, and some laugh-out-loud moments made me watch this one several times already.

  • I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s more of a gag film, a string of funny ideas woven together in an entertaining way. Not to everyones taste, lot’s of inside jokes, but what’s wrong with that. Nice to see someone doing their own thing not just following a formula.

  • Absolutely perfect. If I was to pack a spotted sack of sandwiches and walk into the lonely wild today, I would feel I left with civilisation at a high point.

  • Loved it! I laughed my ASS OFF during the shower scene–that’s my kind of gag.

  • Fantastic, absolutely fantastic.

    And there’s that lovely choice quote in there that is perhaps all too common for our liking. ;)

  • GW

    That was priceless. My favorite short from David O Reilly so far. This is what Frank Film should have been.

  • ml

    Ok, I am profoundly disappointed in this. Don’t get me wrong, I loved PSS. Love his style, liked the U2 video.
    But I just don’t get this at all. Is it that the work is genius and I am just flawed in my opinion?
    A bunch of random offensive things, ideas seem recycled from Don Hertzfeldt, characters that seem ripped off from Chris Ware’s Quimby the Mouse comics (which yes were “inspired” by early Disney designs).
    The whole thing was just a painful 17 minutes to sit through. I was so looking forward to this too. I kept hoping for that moment of genius to talk to me, and it just didn’t happen.
    The bit with the recycled test footage is just outright hostile to the audience’s patience. Is that the point?
    Someone please explain what I am missing.

  • Clement

    Was the subliminal DEATH written at 3:46 needed ?
    The description of the film at my festival was “A little boy learns to play the piano”. A little respect for the audience please.

    • fill

      hahaha respect for the audience?

  • Jorge Garrido

    David O’Reilly once again proves he’s a mediocre filmmaker.

    He has no new ideas, nothing original to say. He’s completely uninteresting.

    He desperately WANTS to be provocative. The stuff with the “please remind patients that nothing is wrong with them” is such unsubtle, boring, awful, middlebrow “commentary” on modern life.

    Will someone please properly parody this pompous, ponderous filmmaker? It’d be the easiest thing in the world to do. His films are so formulaic in the way they combine ironically cute or ironically lofi, low polygon primitive CGI, contrasted with “cutting” imagery and shallow emotional circle jerking. It’s such an easy style, I’m surprised 80 people didn’t come up with the same contrast at the same time. “Hey, I’ll do CGI in a way that doesn’t apologize for the fact that it’s CGI, but then add in hackneyed, hamfisted “social commentary” and primitive emotionalism. ISN’T IT WEIRD THAT I’M MIXING THOSE THINGS?!?!”

    No, it isn’t weird, it’s boring. He’s not even a good cynic.

    • The problem is, if you parodied one of his films, it would look just like one of his films.

    • Karim

      At first, I thought you were ironic… then what I read gets closer to pure invectiveness. At least give arguments rather than pointing at its “mediocrity” and many other adjectives you’re playing with without having a point.

      I’m jealous too of his work, don’t worry mate, it happens.

      Chill out ‘bro.

      • Jorge Garrido

        So your reply, Karim, is basically “u jelly?”

      • Mark

        I’m personally glad there are people like Jorge around, who know absolutely everything-there-is-to-know about animation and aren’t afraid to direct insults towards people who put their work online for free. He’s a true genius.

        Don’t give up Jorge! I’m sure that enough negative comments on the internet will make all the things you don’t like go away.

      • Frit Ceramic

        Well all I can say Jorge is that this is one of the most inspiring, freshest, entertaining shorts I’ve seen in a long long time, and considering all the awards this movie have received your comment is pretty much pathetic.

        I’m also jealous. Doing fun stuff like this would be a dream come true, and I work as an art director in a game studio.

  • I think the people hating this film are just old, This is a very internet culture and the absurdism that goes along with it.

    Many of the segments offer a reference to culture of the current generation, such as the homeless guy getting the coin out of a block and then eating mushrooms, An obvious reference to Super Mario. But also the current generations’ objection to Fine Art as well. (Similar to Bansky’s view of it in “Exit through the Gift Shop”)

    I particularly liked the segment ‘Unacceptable Behavior’, which referred to standardized education and how its killing creativity in children, and how it offered an extreme comparison to Hitler killing the Jews. Some may find this unnecessary but I viewed it as brilliant, but NOT BECAUSE of the “shock humor” everyone accuses this film of doing.

    I mean just look at the title, The External World. I believe its a reference to a type of Philosophy that completely objects the reality around us. It’s and examination of doubt and belief in things around us.

    In addition to all of the things going on, I think he was going for the type of humor that is usually found in various internet memes.

    At Ottawa is was great to see the audience both laugh out loud and cringe at the same time, not many films do that this well. I can’t really compare this film to anything I’ve seen before except maybe Xavior: Renegade Angel and one of people who worked on that show helped David write this, I believe…

    • Jorge Garrido

      David O’Reilly is the Banksy of animators, that’s for sure. For the photography equivalent, I offer up Tyler Shields, or maybe even Terry Richardson.

      David’s the “It Girl!”

      • Thomas Hatch

        Seriously, did David O’Reilly kill your dog or something?

      • Jorge Garrido

        It’s not meant to be an insult, it’s just how he’s positioned himself within the art form. Every art form has someone like him.

        He’s Andy Warhol. I don’t meant that an an insult or compliment, just an objective assesment.

      • Thomas Hatch

        Jorge Garrido once again proves that he’s a mediocre commenter.

        He has no new ideas, nothing original to say. He’s completely uninteresting.

        He desperately WANTS to be provocative. The stuff about “hackneyed, hamfisted social commentary” is such unoriginal, boring, awful, art school criticism. Every art form has someone like him.

        Will someone please properly parody this pompous, ponderous commenter? It’d be the easiest thing in the world to do. His comments are so formulaic in the way they combine “quotation marks” around certain “words” and generic phrases like “shallow emotional circle jerking” and “primitive emotionalism” It’s such an easy style, I’m surprised 800 billion people didn’t come up with the same comment at the same time!

        Anyway, I don’t mean this as an insult or compliment, just an objective assessment.

      • Jorge Garrido

        I do believe I’ve been zinged.

  • Jonas

    I absolutely love this movie. Congratulations on the well deserved awards. Beautifully done.

  • That’s what short animation film in 2011 has to be. Thanks!


    mm i think there is a difference between being hip and modern and make a good film.. it has some interesting stetic points but to me is totally empty ….cheers!!

  • I keep rewatching this. It’s amazing!

  • Was My Face Red

    I’m glad that at least over here we’re actually having a discussion about an artist and a piece of work that moves the art form forward (perhaps).

  • As someone who possesses an insanely twisted imagination I definitely loved this. It felt like around every corner there was a new and disgusting surprise. Disturbing cuteness has never been done better. David OReilly may be my new favorite animator! Keep up the amazing work!

  • wow. i didnt like it. at all. and im a huge hertzfeldt fan.

  • Chelsea

    wow look at the reactions to this short- beautiful.
    I think the only thing that doesn’t work in this film is the ‘frames unrendered part’. The whole teapot thing is a real inside joke to 3D animators- it just felt out of place.
    Loved it though!

  • DF

    The visual style is so great.

    I did think it’s not as well “tied-up” as PSS. I liked all the scenes, but it seems more like a demoreel than a finished short. Yes, there are recurrent themes and all, but still. Seemed pretty random to me.

    But that’s my only criticism. All the rest is awesome and I’ll still certanly watch it dozens of times (like i did with PSS);

    PS: btw, I dont think its a problem to compare this to PSS. why not? it’s a frame of reference that everyone here knows. It sucks to expect PSS2 though.

    PPS: I’ve always prefered artists that take risks, even if I dont like 100% of all they do. Just for that David is in one of my top 10 animators!

  • These comments make “The External World” O’reilly’s greatest success.

  • jknl

    it wouldnt be a work of art without these comments :P thanks jorge. im wondering how he did the voices on the animals.

  • james hill

    I agree that Please say something way more insightful and mature than this. When I saw the trailer for the External world I was really excited as I loved PSS so much. But it felt really very immature with the silly gags. It was way to literal and lacked the emotional depth of PSS for me. I feel this film tried to make up for it with funky visuals and jokes whereas PSS did not need any of that because the emotional content was so much more engaging.
    For me I couldn’t care less about cool design / toys humping/ or heads exploding..theres nothing to connect to there…but a troubled relationship between a cat and a mouse…that was dripping with emotion in comparison.

  • I am amazed at the amount of vitriol EXTW has generated here! David should take this as a ridiculously high compliment! Obviously the piece has done it’s job. The theme of the whole film is how people are scared of things that are new, and more specifically about how the mainstream animation community rejects things which it cannot understand. I speculate that the comments on mental health in the film come from a place of frustration, brought on by David’s peers saying he is nuts for wanting to do things his own way. I could be reading too much into it, but it is only because I have felt that way. If I do not want to make a reel that will get me a job within the studio system then I am thought to be crazy. The point of animation should be to make art and tell a story, not to get a job. I commend David for telling his story his own way in the face of such adversity.

  • Mic

    I absolutely love this…

    Come’on people! You’re seriously offended by this?
    What is there to be offended about?
    Are you five years old or something?
    I personally do not find this provocative in terms of content at all.

    I just love the awesome animation, the sound, and how the scenes put together. Refreshing.

  • Mendes

    I loved this! Just watched it.
    I agree with jinnaboy on his points about “Why ‘Say something’ was better than ‘External world'” but, for me, the point on this whole animation was nearly clear…

    His intention was to show that a poorly drawn animation, with a raw script and very worked out could be taken as the Holy Grail of modern art by the artistic comunity. There is much criticism in the film, mainly on how the animation is treated in society, i.e it’s degree of influence in the art world in general.
    I really did not understand the role of the stuffed animals (frog, monkey, and the other one), maybe their objective is to lead cause people to criticize the work as a whole, despite the rest of the animation, to provoke people, and show then that they can be futile in their critics… I don’t know, I really don’t know O’Reilly’s work enough to say so categorically!

    Anyway, in my opinion the entire piece was intented to clarify this: The degree of superficiality and childness that is expected from the animations, people’s spectations and ideas about what is an animated film!
    Perhaps there is something else, I do not know, but for me this was the main message, passed from a genius of animation/direction!

    Forgive my poor english…