Creature Discomforts: Life in Lockdown

By Gary Meyer

Do you remember a short film called Creature Comforts?
Stop motion clay animated zoo animals were given voice by a series of non-actors in series of “man on the street” type interviews where they talk about the advantages and disadvantages of living in a zoo. In 1991 the film won an Academy Award for director Nick Park and Aardman Animations.

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They are back.

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THE PUPPET MASTER: The Films of Jiří Trnka

by Carlos Valladares

Jean Cocteau said of Jiří Trnka, the Czech animator and puppeteer, that the very name conjures up childhood and poetry. Note the “and”—childhood and poetry, la poésie de l’enfance, which Trnka treats with the depth and respect those oft-belittled years merit. We are only too quick to gloss over our fanciful kid dreams, our stumbling attempts to use simple words to convey huge emotions which we spend our adult trying to refine and intellectualize and know, know, boringly know.

Image result for Jiří Trnka - A Missing Friend | TrailerTrnka, by contrast, was a seer, a dweller. He dwelled in youth, dwelled in the crevices of language before social and linguistic codes are mastered (most of his films’ narratives lose you along the way, and that’s when you know they’re working). His magic is the magic of the slow burn, the way the worlds of imperial China or a rose-wrapped Greek forest unfurl before your childlike eyes with a responsible contempt for the straight-edged story-line. Trnka’s gift—the gift, also, of Lewis Carroll, Beatrix Potter, François Truffaut, Demy in Donkey Skin mode, the late Stephen Hillenburg, and other bards of childhood—was to give kids what they most needed for maturity, a truthful artifice wrapped in a lived-in melancholy and wistfulness, and to make jaded adults see as simply as their kids again.

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