Animated Films

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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Lino
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Animated Films

#1 Post by Lino » Tue Oct 04, 2005 12:16 pm

I think this could be a very nice idea. You could use this thread kind of like an interactive journal where one can write about 20th century produced animation feature films, shorts and TV series that have managed to make an impression on you recently.

So it is my very great pleasure that I begin this thread by recommending you my personal favorite animated film of all time: Halas and Bachelor's Animal Farm. Based on the George Orwell famous tale, this uncompromising animated masterpiece never fails to make an impression and is thousands of miles away from the tried and tested formulae of today's current animation.

Instigating discussion like few others, it also is famous chez moi as being able to bring out tears on a particularly harrowing scene between a donkey and a horse. That's right, folks. I have a heart too. Now go and read a review of the HVe disc here.

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#2 Post by Michael » Tue Oct 04, 2005 12:28 pm

Animal Farm?...hmmm I would take Tom and Jerry over this anytime. Mind you, I haven't seen Animal Farm but I suffered through reading the Orwell book assigned by a very sadistic 10-grade teacher. And to make the matter much worse, after finishing with Animal Farm, she chose 1984 - simply because that year was 1984. Four long winter months of Orwell. No more Orwell for me.. ever again.

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#3 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Tue Oct 04, 2005 12:35 pm

I'll admit to a weakness for crappy animation like the 1967 animated incarnation of Spider-Man! I remember being weaned on endless re-runs of it as a child and was so happy when Buena Vista finally released all the episodes on DVD! It was such a wonderful trip down memory lane.

Those that fondly remember this animated series, will no doubt recall the insanely catchy theme song (that, if memory serves was reprised at the end of Raimi's first Spider-Man movie). Sure, it is pretty crude animation by today's standards—simple renderings with little background detail and lots of repetition (in some episodes it seemed like Spidey spent half the time swinging through New York City)—but that is part of its charm. What it lacks in slick technique it more than makes up for in content. The episode that focused on Spidey's origins followed the comic book very faithfully. This included Peter Parker discovering that he could crawl up walls and the creation of his web-shooters (two things that the feature film changed).

In a weird way, the episode (and the show in general) is also a fascinating snapshot of the ‘60s with an impressionistic take on New York City and trippy, abstract skies of all colours (at one point, a combo of yellow, green and black). What kind of smog did they have there?

The first season of the show really captured the essence of the original comic book perfectly. At times, it felts as though Steve Ditko's artwork had been recreated. This authenticity is due in large part to the influence of Stan Lee and John Romita who made sure many of the stories from those early comic books were translated directly to the show and most of the memorable villains were included: the Lizard, Electro, Mysterio, the Green Goblin, and Doctor Octopus.

One of the laughably cheesy aspects was some truly odd, original bad guys as well: the Fifth Avenue Phantom whose sidekick was a woman with shrinking ray vision and the Sinister Prime Minister, who was armed with a walking stick, filled with sleeping gas and shot deadly darts. Anyways, I could go on and on about this show. Anyone else have fond memories of it?

Also, here are some great links for further info, screenshots, soundbites, etc.:

Soundbites from the show (including the catchy theme song)

Here's an excellent tribute to the show (much better than my ramblings above)

This page is packed with loads of production info, etc.

Image

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#4 Post by Lino » Tue Oct 04, 2005 12:56 pm

Michael wrote:Animal Farm?...hmmm I would take Tom and Jerry over this anytime. Mind you, I haven't seen Animal Farm but I suffered through reading the Orwell book assigned by a very sadistic 10-grade teacher. And to make the matter much worse, after finishing with Animal Farm, she chose 1984 - simply because that year was 1984. Four long winter months of Orwell. No more Orwell for me.. ever again.
Well, I guess I have to disagree with you on both subjects...but maybe the reason why I love those two works so much is that I wasn't forced to read them at school...though I had to read The Go-Between and I really enjoyed it. The film is top-notch too.

Michael, give the Animal Farm film at least a rental. I'm sure you won't be disapointed. It's done in a very serious way and I'm almost sure that it will strike a chord there somewhere with you.

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#5 Post by Titus » Tue Oct 04, 2005 1:00 pm

I just recently saw Winsor McCay's The Sinking of the Lusitania and was blown away. It's incredible that something so sophisticated could arise out of cel animation in 1918. It reminded me in a lot of ways of Aleksandr Dovzhenko's films in the late 20's and early 30's (Arsenal, particularly). It would've worked better had the title cards been excised, but I was bowled over on the whole.

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#6 Post by antnield » Tue Oct 04, 2005 1:38 pm

onedotzero are worth keeping an eye on. I've reviewed their latest disc for DVD Times and you can link to their site from there.

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#7 Post by Lino » Tue Oct 04, 2005 5:27 pm

Everytime I get a chance, I try to always turn people on to Karel Zeman, Jiri Trnka and the rest of those great, talented people over in the Czech Republic. And what better way to do that than with moving images? Here you go. Click them all - they're all wonderful.

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#8 Post by Titus » Wed Oct 05, 2005 2:14 pm

A couple of anime titles:

The Place Promised in Our Early Days was awfully good. I believe it won the Japanese equivalent to the Best Animated Film Oscar over Steamboy and Howl's Moving Castle. The last hour got a little muddled at times, but it's more than compensated for by the wonderful first half-hour (which captures an overwhelming sense of nostalgia better than any non-Ghibli film I've seen) and the visual beauty present throughout. It was like a cross between Isao Takahata and Kasuhiro Otomo, with considerably more of the former than the latter.

Berserk, a one-season series made in '97, blew me away. The ending nearly ruined it for me at first, but I've made peace with it. Not that the finale was poorly done--it was executed to perfection--I just felt it was incongruous with what had come before. Nevertheless, after a couple of episodes I was absolutely hooked. The characterization here is fantastic, and they manage to throw in large-scale political queries without skewing the main focus of a small band of warriors (and most specifically the three leaders of said band). This is easily one of the best viewing experiences I've had all year.

Edit: Feel free to move the The Place Promised... section of my post. I didn't realize there was a complementary thread in the New Films forum, which is probably where this one belongs.
Last edited by Titus on Thu Oct 06, 2005 8:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#9 Post by solaris72 » Wed Oct 05, 2005 6:10 pm

Annie Mall wrote:Everytime I get a chance, I try to always turn people on to Karel Zeman, Jiri Trnka and the rest of those great, talented people over in the Czech Republic.
Seconded. Much though I respect Japanese animation, I am convinced that the Czech Republic is the best country in the world when it comes to animation. Zeman was a genius, and it's criminal that his films are almost unheard of, let alone available (there's a dubbed DVD of The Invention of Destruction available from Movies Unlimited under the title "The Fabulous World of Jules Verne"). I got to see a decent 35mm print of The Jester's Tale the year before last when a retrospective of Czech films was touring the country, and it was brilliant. And Trnka's even better, as great as any animator ever was. The Image disc of Emperor's Nightingale is better than nothing, but how I wish Criterion would release his Midsummer Night's Dream:
Pictures - Clip 1 - Clip 2. There's a Japanese disc out, which I've been considering getting a while, except it's $50+ and I'd also have to finally bite the region free bullet.

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#10 Post by Lino » Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:04 am

solaris72 wrote:Much though I respect Japanese animation, I am convinced that the Czech Republic is the best country in the world when it comes to animation.
Wholeheartedly agree. The Czech Republic is a treasure trove of animation gems and jewels and it never ceases to amaze me the quality of the things they have been poducing there for so many decades now.

About the availability of Zeman DVDs in the world, well - right now I am one step away of completing my complete collection of his works on DVD. Naturally, they're all japanese sans english subs but his films are so visual that you really don't care if you're missing something to read.

Oh, and all of Trnka's movies are also available on shiny digital discs in Japan. So far, I've got two: Old Czech Legends and my personal favorite, Midsummer Night's Dream which I luckily got to see a couple of years back on the big screen. A treat, no less. The DVDs are also english subs free of course... Jiri Trnka & Karel Zeman
Titus wrote:The Place Promised in Our Early Days was awfully good. I believe it won the Japanese equivalent to the Best Animated Film Oscar over Steamboy and Howl's Moving Castle. The last hour got a little muddled at times, but it's more than compensated for by the wonderful first half-hour (which captures an overwhelming sense of nostalgia better than any non-Ghibli film I've seen) and the visual beauty present throughout. It was like a cross between Isao Takahata and Kasuhiro Otomo, with considerably more of the former than the latter.
Thank you for mentioning that. Somehow it completely passed under my radar but I guess I will have to check it out. There's even a US DVD out now so even better:

Image

DVD Talk review

And how could I not recommend you the works of Frederic Back? As I was compiling my 80's list, it ocurred to me that one of his many masterworks was made and released in that decade: The Man who planted Trees. Luckily this is available on DVD so if you haven't seen it, go find it. And then plant a tree or two afterwards (those who have seen it, will know what I mean).

Watch an extract here by clicking on the old man picture:

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#11 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Oct 07, 2005 10:15 am

Back's complete works are available (in a nice box set) from Canadian online re-tailers like www.archambault.ca (there is an English version of this Quebec website).

Yuri Norstein's work is also indispensable -- and now available all on one DVD from Jove films.

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#12 Post by the dancing kid » Fri Oct 07, 2005 9:24 pm

I saw Oshii's Angel's Egg a few months back and it has been bouncing around in my head ever since. I actually didn't care for it very much at first but as I've thought about it more and more my appreciation for it has increased quite a bit. I actually saw it a day or two after watching Jodorowsky's Fando y Lis which I think heavily influenced by reaction. They both use Christian symbolism and a bit of Christ allegory mixed in with surrealist images and atmosphere, which I think may have been too much for me twice in a row. It's very light on dialogue (rare for Oshii!) or any other kind of exposition, although there really isn't much plot to worry about, it's basically all about the images and the atmosphere they create.

Apparently Anchor Bay was planning on releasing a DVD with English subs awhile back, but they must have lost the rights to it because that appears to have been scrapped. There's a Japanese disc out, but sans English subs.

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#13 Post by Lino » Sat Oct 08, 2005 7:27 am

the dancing kid wrote:I saw Oshii's Angel's Egg a few months back and it has been bouncing around in my head ever since.
Absolutely. It's a crime that this wondrous piece of animation is not more widely known in the West.

From the first minutes, I knew I was in for something very special. And I was not wrong. It is very atmospheric, with a very dark look to it, the soundtrack is truly astonishing and it really lifts the piece, and the story because of its mysterious content and little dialogue, certainly rewards multiple viewings.

One should note that Mamoru Oshii is heavily influnced by mythology in general and western religions in particular and this film is living proof of that.

I still don't know what Angel's Egg is about but maybe that's why I watch it often - to try and solve the puzzle.

Some pictures

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#14 Post by solaris72 » Sat Oct 08, 2005 11:30 am

the dancing kid wrote:Apparently Anchor Bay was planning on releasing a DVD with English subs awhile back, but they must have lost the rights to it because that appears to have been scrapped. There's a Japanese disc out, but sans English subs.
Great film! I've got a (probably bootlegged) DVD of it that's available regularly on eBay, which looks to be the Japanese disc with the region coding modified to 0 and removable english subs added. Well worth picking up.

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#15 Post by Lino » Sat Oct 08, 2005 11:46 am

solaris72 wrote:
the dancing kid wrote:Apparently Anchor Bay was planning on releasing a DVD with English subs awhile back, but they must have lost the rights to it because that appears to have been scrapped. There's a Japanese disc out, but sans English subs.
Great film! I've got a (probably bootlegged) DVD of it that's available regularly on eBay, which looks to be the Japanese disc with the region coding modified to 0 and removable english subs added. Well worth picking up.
Same here! And it works just fine. The only problem I have with it are the yellow subs but I can live with it. Pretty cheap too.

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#16 Post by Arcadean » Thu Oct 13, 2005 3:16 am

On Animal Farm, I thought it was pretty good. I haven't read the book though. There was also something I rememberd reading on the IMDb Trivia page after I saw it.
The CIA obtained the film rights to "Animal Farm" from Orwell's widow, Sonia, after his death and covertly funded the production as anti-Communist propaganda. Some sources assert that the ending of the story was altered by the CIA (in the book, the pigs and humans join forces) to press home their message, but it is equally possible that the more upbeat ending of the movie was an artistic decision, to give the film more audience appeal.
One of the strangest trivias I have read there. Fantastic thread idea also so I'll contribute. About 2 years ago I saw an animated film that made quite an impression. I was dying, in the hospital (I lived, of course) and my parents came to see me. Instead of bringing me some movie I already loved, they brought me something new. I wasn't into anime like I am now. I was pretty depressed and they brought me My Neighbor Totoro by Hayao Miyazaki. This movie made me so happy and made me feel like a kid again. Poor explanation of my feelings, I know, but I have always cherished the film since and would place it in a top 10 favorite list if I had to. Perhaps it was the situation that made me really cling to this film, but I know I would have loved it anyway.

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#17 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Oct 13, 2005 8:13 am

What a wonderful story about Totoro, Arcadean. Your parents couldn't have made a better choice.

Until the US DVD comes out, the best choices might be the Korean and Hong Kong DVDs. Unlike the more expensive Japanese version which has dubtitles, these have trues subtitles (but no English dub). The Korean DVD looks great (Haven't seen the HK one myself).

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#18 Post by Lino » Thu Oct 13, 2005 10:28 am

This month sees the release in Italy of a 4xDVD boxset dedicated to the works of Bruno Bozzetto.

Image

This is a no-brainer for every animation buff out there and before you ask, yes, it comes with english subs on the features and extras alike.

I've only come to know this talented animator and director very recently and I've fallen head over wheels over his work - it's still fresh after some odd 30+ years, the animation itself always inventive and original, and he has some clever things to say too.

He's still active apparently, doing flash animation shorts for the web and participating as jury on important animation festivals around the world. If you're curious about his work, go watch some trailers here.

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#19 Post by J Wilson » Tue Nov 08, 2005 12:22 pm

That Bozzetto set is quite nice, but West & Soda suffers from some of the worst English subtitles I've ever seen. They appear to have done either by someone with minimal background in English or put through babelfish. Awful.

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#20 Post by Lino » Tue Nov 08, 2005 12:45 pm

Can you tell us a little bit more about the set? How is it packaged? And does it carry some kind of booklet with it?

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#21 Post by J Wilson » Tue Nov 08, 2005 2:10 pm

I don't have it at hand, but the box is fairly substantial paperboard material, and the individual volumes are in the DVD equivalent of digipaks, which certainly aren't made to take a great deal of abuse. Menus are selectable in Italian or English. No substantial booklet a la Criterion. It's an attractive looking set though, no question.

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#22 Post by Cobalt60 » Sat Nov 19, 2005 3:13 pm

One film that made a very stronge impression on me was Ralph Bakshi's Wizards. I was (and am) a big Vaughn Bode fan and when I saw how Bakshi had blatantly and unapoligetically ripped him off for Wizards I was floored. Bakshi seems to have a gift for taking other peoples work and making it suck. He stole Bode's style for Wizards, mutilated LOTR for his film of the same name, Fritz the cat was an embaressment compared to the comic and the less said about Fire and Ice the better. And the story is not even that great. Its like he new he wanted to do a post-apocolyptic-Bode-type-thing but didn't have much else. So he fleshed it out with some crap about magic vs technology and Nazi propaganda films and there you have 90 minutes of your life you will never get back.

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#23 Post by Lino » Sat Nov 19, 2005 5:09 pm

Calm down! Look, I haven't been to Bakshi's forum for a while but there was a discussion a while back about precisely the question of did he steal from Bode or not. Bakshi used to go there and answer some questions (not anymore since he's busy working on his new project, Last Days of Coney Island - yes, he's working again!) and he specifically said that he did not go for Bode's drawings as an inspiration for his own Wizards. So there.

However, there are still some members that don't believe him...

That said, have you seen Bakshi's American Pop? That for me is his unheralded masterpiece.

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#24 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Nov 21, 2005 9:52 am

Annie Mall wrote:I still don't know what Angel's Egg is about but maybe that's why I watch it often - to try and solve the puzzle.
This is a film that I have wanted to see for a long time - I remember seeing the film In The Aftermath: Angels Never Sleep which was a kind of post-holocaust live action film that intercuts scenes from Angel's Egg into it, so I think I've probably got even less of an idea of what was going on!

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#25 Post by Cobalt60 » Mon Nov 21, 2005 10:21 am

Annie Mall wrote:Calm down! Look, I haven't been to Bakshi's forum for a while but there was a discussion a while back about precisely the question of did he steal from Bode or not. Bakshi used to go there and answer some questions (not anymore since he's busy working on his new project, Last Days of Coney Island - yes, he's working again!) and he specifically said that he did not go for Bode's drawings as an inspiration for his own Wizards. So there.

However, there are still some members that don't believe him...

That said, have you seen Bakshi's American Pop? That for me is his unheralded masterpiece.
Well I am sure that he said that, but look at Bode's stuff (especially Cobalt 60 and Junkwaffel) and then look at Wizards. It is so obvious as to not really be up for debate. Regardless of what excuses he is using these days I still say he ripped him off. Hell, Bode dies in '75, Wizards comes out in '77. Seems like he practically got the ball rolling right after Bode's death. But that is totally my opinion and I know that Bakshi has a large fan base. And I did see American Pop and didn't care for it either.

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