Friday, April 10, 2009

Stravinsky Rock


Animators' greatest concern - Faustian bargains.

There's a promotional piece from the time of the film's release that credits Anne Marie Bardwell with the lion's share of "Angel's" animation. There's a softness to the character and Broadway feel that, in light of her credits with Don Bluth, suggest she handled the part in this sequence.

I suspect "Mok" was animated by another hand. He's snappier. Not just in his posing, but his linework is harder, more angular.

This is probably the strongest sequence from "Rock and Rule". The effects are pretty nice.

From right around the same time, R. O. Blechman's "L'Histoire du Soldat." Tissa David up until the silhouette which is Fred Mogubgub's work:




When I talk about "Broadway posing" this is what I mean:

to here ("Where'd he go!")

a cut, then here. ("OMG! There he is!")

which animates right into this

It's all very skillfully done, I just don't know what it means.  Then again, I don't know what her conflict is.  She's only being asked to give up her current rock band -including and egomaniacal lead singer who abuses her -for the one thing rockers want: stardom.  In effect, she's not losing anything but still gaining her ultimate desire.

The viewer knows this also means Mok will gain some super power, but she doesn't.  And really, their world is pretty grim as it is, so whatever this guy does to it can't be much worse.

Here are some parallel drawings from "L'Histoire du Soldat":

The drawing reminds me of the point in "Waltz with Bashir" when I realized we would be watching uninspired animation.  In that film wild dogs run through the street.  They run past a woman holding her child.  She clutches the baby facing the dogs.  Tsk. Tsk.  How much more powerful, more real if she were to sacrifice her body to protect the child.

And look at what Vertov is doing here.  Cradling the violin, protecting it from the Devil.  

That look!  Like a boy with his puppy.

In this shot he goes from frightened and protective to defiant and proud.  The change goes through the "look" at the violin.  There you have.  Hegel in action -thesis: poses 1 & 2, antithesis: pose 4, synthesis (the relationship/catalyst of the two):  pose 3.

It's not just philosophy executed in animation- it's humanity.  Emotional realism.

If there's a modicum of interest in this post, I'll continue with a comparison of the Devil and Mok.  Both characters in "L'Histoire du Soldat" have near perfect voice acting.  The Devil performed by Max von Sydow.  The voice performances in "Rock and Rule" are fine, but really, starting with two strong voice records like the Soldier (Yugoslav director Dusan Makavejev, after surgery for throat cancer) and The Devil gives an animator a leg up.


Liesje Kraai said...

In defense of the 'Broadway' style movement (though I prefer the subtle actions more myself), Rock n' Rule is all about the showiness of the music so, in way, I'd say it fits.

I do find it interesting, though, that the film with what might be considered the more 'realistic' character designs is the more 'cartoony' when it comes to movement.

John Schnall said...

Wow, a comparison of Rock and Rule and Soldier's Tale; I'm impressed. If we cross highbrow and lowbrow do we end up with... a unibrow?

Mylar said...

Anne Marie as you surmised was the lead animator on "Angel" .

The lead animator on "Mok" was Robin Budd.

The original name of the character was "Mok Swagger" (Mick Jagger ... get it ?) . Jagger's lawyers put a stop to that , though there's still a bit of Mick in that character design.