One of the most unique voices in animation, Marcell Jankovics, the Hungarian director of features like FehérlÃ³fia and shorts like Sisyphus, has completed a new feature. And this is not any film, but a two-hour, forty-minute epic that was in production for nearly 25 years!
The film, Az ember tragédiája (The Tragedy of Man) was released in Hungary last December. It’s adapted from a famous Hungarian play of the same name written by Imre Madách. A film review by Vassilis Kroustallis suggests that it’s relentlessly bleak and somewhat repetitive, yet worth seeing:
Lucifer, the co-creator of the world (according to his statement) tests Adam and puts him to sleep to see his destiny through the ages. The trip is interesting, visually stimulating (but never pretty), and relentlessly repeating. Not a single note of happiness or laughter enters The Tragedy of Man, which proceeds from the Garden of Eden to Egypt and then to classical Greece, Rome, Christianity and beyond…The choice of the stories to tell is varied and remarkable. Along with the usual historical suspects (Danton and the French Revolution, Hitler and Stalin), the Miltiades story from Greece (a general who becomes a traitor), and the Tancred and Crusades segment–along with the battles on the Filioque–are a treat to watch in this context.
Jankovics’ work is always a unique visual experience, and one expects this to be no different. Aeon Flux creator Peter Chung described Jankovics’ style best when he wrote that Jankovics can “make the movement a primary aspect of the design. Every element–character & setting, foreground & background, color & shape, is integrated into a total composition in motion. It approaches the idea of animation as a visual equivalent to music, with analogs to melody, rhythm and harmony working in a non-literal evocation of ideas and feelings.”
The game studio was started by former baseball player Curt Schilling, and had received a $75 million loan guarantee from the state of Rhode Island (population 1 million), which gambled that Schilling’s company would bring high-paying tech jobs to the state. The company managed to slip out one game before collapsing, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, which both looks and sounds like the creation of a sweaty-palmed, pimple-faced high school student.
Amalur shipped 1.2 million copies in its first 90 days (according to Schilling). The governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, said in a press conference a couple days ago that the game would have needed to sell more than twice as many copies just to break even.
There’s a lot of lessons to be learned here, the first of which would be that just because you know how to throw a ball doesn’t entitle you to tens of millions of taxpayer dollars so that you can pretend to run a video game technology company. Schilling just made it that much harder for legitimate video game entrepreneurs to receive any type of investment for their companies.
“No one goes to Milt Kahl – or Marc Davis or Ollie Johnston or Frank Thomas – ‘Wow’ what pencil did you use?” That’s my favorite quote from last Monday’s Marc Davis Lecture, The Development of the Digital Animator, moderated by Tom Sito. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has posted online the ten most significant moments from the event. Panelists included Lasseter, Bill Kroyer, Tim Johnson and Phil Tippett. You can watch all ten segments here: on Oscar’s You Tube channel.
…it might look like these incredible designs by Matthew Humphreys, an artist currently at Hasbro Studios. Click on image above to seen the full line up. Honestly, if it were up to me, I’d be developing at least one Marvel property as a Disney hand drawn film… Dr. Strange, Sub Mariner, The Silver Surfer…
…actually, the makers of Life’s A Jungle are desperately trying to trick consumers to pick up this low budget travesty. People say the DVD market is dying – if it puts an end to crap like this I’m all for it. And if you think the box art is bad… wait’ll you check out the trailer:
Buz-e-Chini is being hailed in the news story above as being the first computer-animated short in Hazaragi, the language of the Hazara people, who are the third largest ethnic group in Afghanistan. The director, Abbas Ali, was born in Afghanistan, but fled the country when the Taliban took over and studied animation in Pakistan. The film appears to have been produced mostly in Pakistan since the production company is Karachi-based Post Amazers. Also, in the news piece above, the director indicates that he started production on the film while he was still living in Pakistan.
The entire film can be viewed below. It’s an impressive production based on a Hazara folk tale. The film is dedicated to Hussain Ali Yousafi, the voice of the wolf, who was assassinated in 2009. No one said making animated films in Afghanistan would be easy.
This year’s intro video to Dreamworks “Animation Day” (a day long acting workshop for their animators) is a hoot. Look closely and you’ll spot several Dreamworks animators (James Baxter, Simon Otto, etc.) and Jeffery Katzenberg as well as some live action reference footage shot for their features. Can you imagine if the Disney staff made films like this in 1952?
It’s apparently a Japanese take on American cable cartoons. According to Amazon.com:
The Anarchy sisters, Panty and Stocking, are angels who were kicked out of Heaven due to bad behavior. They are sent to Daten City, a place located on the edge of Heaven and Hell, where creatures called “Ghosts” have run wild — feeding on human desire. Under the watchful eye of Reverend Garterbelt, it’s up to Panty and Stocking to destroy these Ghosts, in order to collect enough Heaven Coins to return to paradise. Only the Anarchy sisters can save humanity from these monsters and when they’re not bickering with each other, they’re unstoppable.
13 episodes come out on DVD July 10th. For those curious about seeing the actual show before it comes out on DVD, you can watch a few episodes on FUNimation’s official site.
Director Steve Moore has finally posted one of my favorite (and rarely seen) Disney shorts of recent (or semi-recent) vintage. Moore recounts the making of the film – a product of Disney’s Television Animation unit, that went on to be nominated for an Academy Award in 1997 – on his Flip Animation blog. Written by Dan O’Shannon (now of Modern Family), narrated by Garrison Keillor, and voiced by Mia Farrow, Michael Richards, June Foray and Adam West, here at last is Redux Riding Hood:
Vladimir Mavounia-Kouka created a real winner with this video for Odezenne’s catchy hip-hop tune “Dedans.” The stark black-and-white visuals evoke a 1930s Fleischer Studios cartoon nightmare. But this is no pastiche. Mavounia-Kouka has a graphic style that samples from the past, but speaks in its own fresh voice, much like Odezenne’s song, which smartly weaves classic big band samples into its contemporary sound. (P.S. – The filmmaker says on the Vimeo page that a version with English lyrics is forthcoming; the animation tells a story in itself, but it’ll be great to know what they’re saying.)
British animator Cyriak does more with less than just about any other animator today. In Because, he “found a stupid photo of my face and decided to make a video out of it. Why? Just because.”
Cyriak pushes off-the-shelf software to its absolute creative limits. Because‘s outlandish array of creatures and spacecraft were created using 3D layers in Adobe After Effects. He composed the film’s music, too.
Internships are addressed with increasing frequency on Cartoon Brew. While there is value to the concept of internships, too many studios use internships as a means to free labor for their animated projects. The practice is both unethical and illegal.
The growing backlash to unpaid internships is not limited to just the animation industry. Companies who are accused of wrongdoing in the Time article include movie studios (Fox Searchlight), TV shows (PBS’s The Charlie Rose Show), and magazines (Harper’s Bazaar). More and more workers who have been victimized are filing lawsuits against their employers, a trend that could eventually pressure the US government to more strictly enforce labor laws regarding interns.
If you work in the animation industry and feel you have been subjected to an unfair labor situation, please contact me (names and contact info will be kept confidential). I can’t follow up on every request, but Cartoon Brew will continue to bring light to labor issues as much as possible.