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Director: Vladimir Tarasov
Release Date: 1977
Rating: ★★★½
Review:

Forward March Time © Soyuzmultfilm‘Forward March Time!’ is a bold setting of a poem by soviet futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky (1892-1930).

The film illustrates the meandering poem with associative images of the 1905 revolution, the 1917 revolution, World War II and even a futuristic battle in space.

Using a combination of typical seventies designs (besides communist paintings) and rock music (besides an excerpt from Mahler’s fifth symphony), the film is both a markedly modern and interesting piece of soviet propaganda, if a bit too long. It shows Tarasov’s unique style, which he explored further in the much more lighthearted short ‘Contact‘.

Watch ‘Forward March, Time!’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Forward March, Time!’ is available on the DVD box set ‘Animated Soviet Propaganda’

Director: Paul Driessen
Release Date: 1977
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

Ei om zeep © Paul DriessenA man is going to eat an egg, when he suddenly hears a voice from within. He destroys the egg, killing the unseen victim. However his cruel behavior is soon punished in an echo of events.

‘The Killing of an Egg’ is a short cartoon with a very limited setting. The whole action takes place within a single square frame and its perspective is changed only once. In this claustrophobic surrounding the story unfolds its own inner logic. In this limited time-space Paul Driessen shows his mastery of story telling.

This classic cartoon is a prime example of Paul Driessen’s mature style. It’s the first film in which he plays with framing the action (soon followed by split screens, eventually leading to the extreme example of ‘The End of the World in Four Seasons’ from 1995). The film shows Driessen’s typical way of telling a short story based on a simple, yet clever idea which makes the cartoon tick like an inevitable fate. Later examples of this style are ‘Home on the Rails‘ (1981) and ‘Sunny Side Up‘ (1985). And finally, this film is typical of Driessen’s dark humor, which always has a disturbing edge to it. We may feel as powerful as this man, but we, too, will be crushed in the end…

Watch ‘Ei om zeep’ yourself and tell me what you think:

 

‘Ei om zeep’ is available on the DVD ‘The Dutch Films of Paul Driessen’

Director: Paul Driessen
Release Date: 1977
Rating: ★★★
Review:

David © Paul Driessen

After working in Canada for the NFB for five years, Driessen experienced a major personal setback, when his marriage failed, and his ex left for The Netherlands with their two children. Driessen soon missed his son and daughter and returned to his native country himself.

In The Netherlands he rented a small attic in The Hague to work and live in. Here he made ‘David’, which he dedicated to his children Anouk and Kaj.

David is the world’s tiniest cartoon star. He’s so small, even the little gnomes can’t see him. During most of the cartoon his presence is only known by his footsteps and his voice. In fact, David is probably the first cartoon star to remain invisible throughout the picture. Nevertheless, Driessen manages to keep the film entertaining, even though most of the time we look at an empty screen.

This film is clearly meant for children and unfortunately, it is hampered by its slowness and large amount of dialogue of David himself (in the Dutch version provided by actor Aart Staartjes). Much of the fun is in David trying to make himself known. Despite its joyful spirit, the film contains a morbid ending, when David, having survived a giant and a predatory bird, is eventually squashed by an unknowing pedestrian…

‘David’ was Driessen’s sixth film, and his idiosyncratic style has matured immensely since his first film, ‘The Story of Little John Bailey‘ (1970). With his next film ‘Killing of an Egg‘ he would animate his first masterpiece.

Watch ‘David’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘David’ is available on the DVD  ‘The Dutch Films of Paul Driessen’

Director: John Lounsberry, Wolfgang Reitherman & Art Stevens
Release Date:
 June 22, 1977
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

The Rescuers © Walt Disney‘The Rescuers’ was a joint venture of an old and a new generation of animators at the Disney studio. It is without doubt the best of the three features the studio made in the seventies.

It was Disney’s first feature film since ‘One Hundred and One Dalmatians’ in which Wolfgang Reitherman shared the direction duties, and this fact alone arguably improves the end product.

Unlike the earlier features ‘The Aristocats’ (1970) and ‘Robin Hood‘ (1973) it doesn’t contain any reused animation (with a possible exception of animation from ‘Bambi‘ in a minor mood scene). And while ‘The Aristocats’ and ‘Robin Hood’ relied on proven formulas, both being very reminiscent of ‘Jungle Book’ (1967), ‘The Rescuers’ has a fresh story (based on a children’s book by Margery Sharp), and a unique, surprisingly gloomy atmosphere. In Sharp’s book the mice rescue a prisoner, but for the film the Disney story men chose an orphan girl named Penny to be rescued. A masterstroke, for the lovable little girl easily becomes the center of the story, which contains a lot of heart.

However, all the film’s main characters are adorable: the lovely Hungarian mouse Bianca (voiced by Eva Gabor) and her companion, the superstitious yet valiant janitor Bernard are such great characters that they were able to spawn Disney’s first sequel, ‘The Rescuers Down Under’ in 1990. Medusa is a real and wonderful villain. She hasn’t got any special powers and at times she’s portrayed as preposterous, but mostly she’s sly, mean and genuinely scary: a worthy adversary for our heroes to deal with. She was animated by Milt Kahl, the last and arguably best piece of animation he ever did for the studio.

Medusa may steal the show, but even the minor characters like Orville the Albatross, Rufus the cat, Evenrude the damselfly, Snoops and the two Alligators are delightful. They all contribute to a story, which is concise and well-told. It evolves without delays or side-ways, and leads to a great finale in Devil’s Bayou.

‘The Rescuers’ is also the first Disney feature since ‘Bambi’ (1942) not to be a musical, but to use songs to evoke moods only. All these elements contribute to a story which is both thrilling and moving. The film’s opening credits use a song and beautiful oil paintings by Mel Shaw to start the story. Unfortunately, the background paintings in the rest of the movie are more prosaic, mixing moody oil paintings with more graphic backgrounds to an uneven effect. The animation on the other hand is superb throughout.

Unfortunately, ‘The Rescuers’ proved more of a swansong of the old generation of nine old men than the beginning of a new era. The following features were much weaker, and only with ‘The Little Mermaid’ (1989) Disney found a genuinely new and strong voice. Thus stands ‘The Rescuers’ as a beacon of light in the dark ages of animation that were the 1970s and 1980s.

Watch the trailer of’The Rescuers’ and tell me what you think:

Director: Georges Schwizgebel
Release Date:
 1977
Rating: 
★★★
Review:

Hors-jeu © Georges SchwizgebelIn ‘Hors-jeu’ we watch a soccer match change into a basketball match and into an ice hockey game. When violence enters, however, the game stops.

With this short film Schwizgebel builds on the concepts introduced in his previous film, ‘Perspectives‘. In ‘Hors-jeu’ he incorporates sound-effects and a rather surrealistic play with the rotoscoped images into his style. Surrealism would dominate his next film, ‘Le ravissement de Frank N. Stein‘ (1982), but in its visual style ‘Hors-jeu’ looks more forward to later films, like ‘78 Tours‘ (1985).

Watch ‘Hors-jeu’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNzU1MjYzMjg=.html

‘Hors-jeu’ is available on the DVD ‘Les Peintures animées de Georges Schwizgebel’

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