Monday, 16 May 2011

Where do we all live?

Were do we we all live?
Well if you were smoking Morrocan Woodbines and listening to the Beatles in the 60s the answer would be: A Yellow Submarine.

The song released in 1966 would be the inspiration for an animated film of the same name 2 years later. I first saw it when I was 6 years old. I didnt have much in the way of musical taste, but was privvy to dad's occaisonal drunken frolic to the music of the Beatles.
I know its quite fashionable and some people think its a bold statement of their individuality to say that they do not like the music of the Beatles. I say these people are stunted, pretend, little half creatures, who will ultimately lead very sad lives. Its not because in all sincerity they dislike the Beatles, but usually because they think it gives them such an air of debonair chic to be contrary to such a monumentally, important episode in the history of music. In short, they are arse-heads.
Yellow Submarine gave me, a very young boy at the time, a context for the Beatle's music and so I instantly fell in love with the film. It was pretty much like an hour and a half music video of the Beatles.
The story, characters, music and highly stylised visuals and animation conspire together to make what I consider a fantastic animated experience.
Many years later I met one of the animators of the film, Geoff Loynes, who now, of all things makes his living as Santa Claus. An old-school animator, he is an absolute joy to converse with and still remembers the film fondly.
Although the opening is somewhat grey and desolate it had me hooked from the chorus: Aaaaaaah look at all the lonely people....

So No.4 in my Top 5 Alternative Animated Features is: Yellow Submarine, and to see you out here is one of my favourites from the film.

See you next blog for No.3.
Big D out.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Watership Down but not out.

Greetings Earthlings. Lets talk cartoons shall we?
A colourful interplay of sights and sounds; larger than life, but totally accesible to the youngest of viewers.
Cartoons are a veritable Aladdin's cave of sacred memories for us all.

Luminaries such as, Disney, Hanna & Barbera, and the Warner Bros. stable each deserve a blog of their own, as perhaps does every anime studio. Maybe I'll visit these in later blogs, but rather than me bang on about their merits here, let me introduce you to my Top 5 Alternative Animated Features.
These are the ones I had on VHS and watched endlessly, or rented at the weekend from the local Video rental store (aaaah the 80s) to watch ad infinitum over the weekend, only to have my brother do exactly the same when he came of age. They are therefore indelibly etched on my psyche and their sentiments always in my heart.
Saying that I do remember purposely taping over one of my brother favourites: Flash Gordon (The Greatest Adventure of all). He used to watch the shitting thing 4 times a day.

Now awash with nostalgia after watching that, Ill probably go and watch the other 9 parts. It reminded me of happier times when my brother was a cute kid with missing front teeth and a lisp, when WWF moves were so much easier to do on him, and his will was that much more pliable. Rather than the billigerant, whiskey swigging, misanthrope he has become.

While Im here I'll use this blog a forum to express my regret at taping over my brothers treasured memory:
Im sorry for taping over your cartoon Adam, which you then spent the rest of your life searching for.
Here is a missing piece of your lost childhood. Please watch the rest of it on Youtube... AND STOP FUCKING COMPLAINING ABOUT HOW I TAPED OVER IT WHEN YOU WERE 8 YEARS OLD!
Aaaaand Im back in the room.
So my No.5 Alternate animated feature is:

With its dark and menacing undertones and its unabashed violence and horror (for a cartoon), many have argued that Watership Down is not for children. I say because of this, it is one of the most important childrens cartoons ever. An emotional tale of sentimentality, comedy, comeraderie, mortality and triumph over adversity, It ticks all the boxes. It certainly does not shy away from the sheer brutality of nature, and at times the horror is very palpable... but it is a cartoon. No one ever got upset because Jerry cut Tom's head off.
You have the accessability of a cartoon with some very grisly and indeed real, if unfortunate, aspects of life wrapped in superb story telling.
If a child has ever been traumatised by Watership Down then there was something wrong with the kid, not the film.
Cementing Watership Down's reputation as a life affirming experience, Nigel Hawthorne, John Hurt, Richard Briers and Zero Mostel use their vocal talents to sublime effect.

So, Watership Down, No.5 in my Alternative Animated Features list. Please tune into my next blog when we'll whip off the veil to reveal what is at No.4
Big D out.