Saturday, August 29, 2009

Limited Expectations

A few weeks ago I picked up a small stack of animated Dickens DVDs.

I was hoping they would relate to these cels I had posted earlier.

The DVDs do not include credits, but from my best guess these are the very same Australian produced TV films.

Before 2003 I had never read any Charles Dickens. I had read a few Stephen King books in the 8th Grade, when my high school English teacher claimed "Dickens was like the Stephen King of his time" I took that to mean a verbose editophobe who never began a sentence he didn't intend to run on. Oscar Grillo, though, insisted I should read Dickens -and man, was he ever right. Pretty much the polar opposite of Stephen King.

So far I've only screened "Great Expectations" and "A Tale of Two Cities". "Nicholas Nickelby" and "David Copperfield" have yet to make it into the DVD player.

These types of stories are interesting to us. Drawn animation is a great technique telling epic narratives -all of those dentist office Bible videos are great examples. Its interesting to see how they've been told throughout animation history.

Going in, I did not think these would be very good -and they're not. But they attempt something admirable, they use animation to tell sophisticated stories. The voice acting is impossible to understand. There's no director credited and from the bizarre camera work is doesn't look like there was either. Filmicly, its an attempt at Scooby Doo economies without the know how and expertise of a Hanna Barbera crew.

They do this on a very low budget too. Animation is expensive, yes. But a quality (and evergreen) film adaptation of story like "Bleak House" would cost under $5 million to do animated (I'm not talking about 10 years of development, but a modest but financed production). To do the same thing in live action might cost over $20 million (again, modestly budgeted). On top of that animated films have longer shelf life on video especially in the "family" section.

Rambling, I wonder how the death of the video store will effect the direct-to-video animation market. The infamous "cheapquels" were a boon to executives and overseas studios, but can "Tinkerbelle Part 8" still reel in the millions without point of purchase displays at Blockbuster?

1 comment:

Elliot Cowan said...

You're made me recall a hideous memory of my childhood.
These films played on Saturday mornings on TNT-9.
16 seconds with any of them had me contemplating suicide.