<em>Prophet and Lo$$</em> by Jonathan Bairstow <em>Prophet and Lo$$</em> by Jonathan Bairstow

Prophet and Lo$$ by Jonathan Bairstow

Jonathan Bairstow created Prophet and Lo$$ in 1988 as his graduation film at the Royal College of Art. It’s safe to say that the film, loosely based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, has stood the test of time. I only discovered it recently (for shame!), and its hypnotic use of cycles and rich visuals keep drawing me back for repeat viewings. Nowadays, Bairstow runs the commercial studio Sherbet, which he co-founded in the mid-1990s.

  • Adam Van Meter


    The countless loops remind me of extremely old-fashioned animation, but with a lot more hard angles and straight lines.

    Absolutely berserk with all the action taking place. Man.

  • Wow, that’s amazing. Reminds me a lot of Jonas Odell’s Revolver, which is one of my favourite animated shorts. This predates that and, in many ways, is more adventurous. Lovely work.

  • That is awesome, thanks for posting it here Amid. I love the 80’s/Memphis style.

  • That’s brilliant – I’ve never seen Jonathan Bairstow’s short film work before – thank you for posting it! It makes me think of Run Wrake and Jonas Odell, and I think it slightly predates Run Wrake too. I love the crazy camera move at 1.45.

  • Mir Noorata

    I remember this playing on MTV’s Liquid Television!

  • ECJ

    I Remember seeing this on Liquid Television. 1988 was an exciting year for animation. Akira and Who framed Roger Rabbit both came out.
    It felt like anything was possible. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  • Aaron

    Woah, the opening title looks like and sounds like the title sequence for Lost.

  • Celia

    The played only small clips of this film on Liquid Television,and stuck with me to this day.

    Good ‘ol Liquid Television. How else was a 13 year old from the Midwest going to see this stuff?

  • Jayster 8

    Hey Now! Wow! This put a big smile on my face. I remember seeing this at art school in the library. I had on headphones and was staring very close to the t.v. screen watching a lot of shorts. I remember watching this one like that and it seemed very intense.

    Thanks for posting it here!

  • Ron Ladouceur

    Does this remind anyone else a bit of “Porky in Wackyland?”

  • My initial impression-
    What if Fleischer was making cartoons in the 1980’s?

  • That was magnificent! Thanks for sharing it with us. I do remember seeing this long ago, and it was probably Liquid Television, as others have described. I love its hypnotic and surreal style, very reminiscent of cartoons from the silent film era, and its rhythms really do work with that ’80s synth-pop that defined the era. Strange how that pop sound was completely buried the minute Kurt Cobain arrived on our tv screens?

    I’d love to read Jonathan Bairstow’s thoughts on this short. What was he trying to communicate? I can understand the loose connection to Orpheus and Eurydice, but the film’s images of mechanized mass production feel slightly sinister, slightly foreboding. It’s as though we are being shown the modern post-industrial world, where life is devoted solely to machines making more machines, and humans have become just another series of spare parts.

    I wonder how this film would be received with different music? The bouncy Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis style keeps your toes tapping and punches the rhythm of the images along. But how would be interpret the images if they were driven by, say, Trent Reznor? Or Edgar Varese?

    In any case, this was an excellent animation film. Thanks again for sharing.

  • doug holverson

    So what is that synth song called?

  • Chris Sobieniak

    >Good ‘ol Liquid Television. How else was a 13 year old from the Midwest going to see this stuff?

    For most of us, this was our window into that odd world we didn’t see through normal eyes (PBS’s “Alive from Off Center” is another one of those venues). I often question how well did a film like this work in LTV given the way they had cut it into sections as if they needed only a sprinkle of it draw your attention, but not to leave you hanging until another thing pops up (the usual short attention span deals, I often felt these films needed to be seen in their fully intended glory in order to be reckoned with).

    This film was highlighted in a early 90’s theatrical festival compilation, “The British Animation Invasion”, which was released on VHS by Expanded Entertainment (getting used copies of these tapes can set you back a pretty penny, but it’s worth checking out).

  • it’s pat

    Interesting that the credits list music by Steve Nieve, Elvis Costello’s keyboardist