Forget the whole Plympton vs. Gondry flap on the Kanye West video. Today, it’s Michel Gondry vs. Mike Jittlov. I received an email from an artist yesterday (who prefers to remain anonymous) complaining that the Gondry video for West isn’t all that original. He wrote, “I just thought it was worth pointing that Gondry’s video (colors and all) is a huge homage/rip of Mike Jittlov’s amazing short film ‘Swing Shift,’ and is a very poor imitation at that. Not that I’m not a Gondry fan, because I am, but considering the source, it’s not one of his better efforts.”
Mike Jittlov, for those that aren’t familiar, is a legend of the LA indie animation scene. I’m familiar with his pixelation work, particularly THE WIZARD OF SPEED AND TIME, but I’d never seen SWING SHIFT. That is, until last night, because I found online a late-70s showreel of Jittlov’s work, thanks to blog of Pixar’s Jeff Pidgeon. There’s a clip from SWING SHIFT about 1/3 of the way into the reel where you can find, what else, clothes and other objects dancing after-hours in a department store. You can decide for yourself whether the Gondry video has its roots in this Jittlov short, but I’d definitely recommend watching the entire Jittlov reel. Who knew Regis Philbin was a fan of experimental animation?
UPDATE: Tom Knott writes, “I have an interview with Gondry were he talks about the influence of Norman McLaren, specifically McLaren’s film ‘A Chairy Tale’ (1957). Gondry noted that he makes reference to ‘A Chairy Tale’ in a video he did for Beck. The Kanye West video seems to also reference ‘A Chairy Tale.'”