This is the 2011 Oscar winning short animation, ‘The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.’ It’s the first film from Moonbot Studios in Shreveport, Louisiana. It was co-directed by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
Humans have crash-landed on an alien planet. Sixteen years later, they send a small search party consisting of their children – born at the time of the crash – back toward the broken ship. The young members of the party make their way through a hostile and surreal landscape that holds surprises for them. Finding the ship well-preserved gives one of the young people an important connection to his past and to his origin.
This film was directed by Vladimir Tarasov and was adapted from a novel by Kir Bulychev.
Len Lye’s 1935 film, ‘A Colour Box,’ was made by painting and applying dye directly to the film surface. It is apparently the first direct paint film to gain a general public release and has been widely seen ever since. The film is an odd way to advertise for cheap parcel post and this message starts popping up near the end. The cheerfully infectious music is ‘La Belle Créole’ by Don Baretto and his Cuban Orchestra. Lye’s work must have been hugely influential for the later work of direct paint filmmaker Stan Brakhage.
In 1936, experimental filmmaker Len Lye made this short surreal animation to advertise the benefits of Shell oil for lubricating things. The film is a hyper-saturated stop-motion extravaganza that involves a mechanical world turning on some sort of hand crank. There’s an adventurer driving around the sands of Egypt. His car winds down and konks out leaving the man dead in the desert. The angel of oil rains drops of lubricating crude down on the Egyptian landscape bringing the parched skeleton to life as the Shell Oil robot. Fascinating. It’s got that awkward, shiny, naive beauty that could only be achieved in the 30s. Parts of this thing look like they might be influenced by Salvador Dali’s work. Something about that dead skeleton and the desert looks like it could fit right into the Surrealist master’s paintings.
Lye was from New Zealand and worked not only as an experimental filmmaker but also in newsreels and advertising. He was a kinetic sculptor, poet, painter and a writer of essays on artistic theory and philosphy. He made a 1935 short film called ‘A Colour Box’ which was the first generally exhibited film made by painting directly on the film emulsion. It’s a brilliant experimental animation posing as an advertisement for cheaper parcel post. I’m sure the great direct paint filmmaker Stan Brakhage must have been familiar with Lye’s work.
Here’s a wonderful glimpse into the animation techniques that were pioneering at the time of Disney’s first feature-length animation, ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.’ You get to see some shots of Snow White being drawn and photographed, sound effects being recorded, and people arriving at the premiere. You also get a good dose of the Disney sexism in which all women who work on a film are referred to as ‘pretty girls.’ It’s basically an advertisement for the film, but it’s a good one.