Longtime readers of this blog know I have a “thing” for retro-style cartoons – i.e. new animated shorts that faithfully mimic a past era of animation. Today I’m proud to present the Internet premiere of one of the best I’ve ever seen: Fernando Miller’s Flea and Fly in City Troubles.
The film follows the antics of two homeless urchins in Rio, recreating the look and feel of late 1920s cartoons by mashing the styles of Otto Messmer with Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising, with a pinch of Tex Avery and a nod to Tezuka (Broken Down Film, in particular). However Miller’s film is not simply a clever homage to old cartoons. It addresses real life problems of poverty and street children in modern day Brazil. Flea and Fly’s antics echo innocent behavior of 80 years ago, updated to reflect today’s realities: They sniff glue instead of drink booze; they also smoke, steal, bathe in public and urinate in the street.
I asked Miller, who works as a freelance animator in Rio, to explain the origin of his film: