Kaj Pindal, who turns eighty-five years old this year, ranks up there as one of my all-time favorite animators. Pindal typically works with a very basic library of shapes, but his animation is whimsical, funny, and filled with graphic quirks and tics. It all adds up to a distinctive and appealing style that looks even fresher today amidst the proliferation of mechanical Flash and After Effects animation.
The City: Osaka is not necessarily a Pindal classic–for that, see I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly, King Size, or Peep and the Big Wide World–but I was delighted to discover such a pristine copy posted onto the NFB website. A commissioned film for Expo ’70 held in Osaka, Japan, it was intended to give Japanese people a glimpse into Canadian life, which apparently consists mostly of deforestation and hockey.
The spare black-and-white design of the film, as well as the two minutes of blank screen at the beginning (albeit with excellent jazz music), are due to the film’s original mode of projection. “It played around the clock for the duration of the World’s Fair on a screen made of sixty thousand individual light bulbs,” Pindal said. Kaj talks about his experiences associated with the film on the Kaj Pindal blog.
Here’s a terrific documentary about Kaj Pindal called Laugh Lines from 1979: