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by Philipp Hirsch

While on the jury of the 2004 Holland Animation Festival, one film stood out from all the rest. Amidst some controversy, we decided to award it the grand prix for best non-narrative film. (It was submitted in that category, in spite of it having obvious narrative content). For me, it meant the chance to see it a second time, since the winners would be screened again on the last day. The second viewing was even more enthralling than the first.

You can get the DVD from the website. I watch it regularly. Share it with friends.

Peter Chung, Friday, 28 October 2005 03:56 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...
Looks fascinating. I'll be ordering it.

Watching the Flux DVD's right now. It was worth the wait.

PVC (peeveecee), Saturday, 26 November 2005 19:46 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

The complete film is now available here:

Peter Chung, Monday, 4 February 2008 11:30 (ten years ago) Permalink

Talk about delayed responses.

derbesy, Monday, 4 February 2008 17:49 (ten years ago) Permalink

I thought it was cool until the hyper ambiguous faux meaningful statement in the end.

J. F. Aldridge, Monday, 4 February 2008 23:35 (ten years ago) Permalink

Do you mean "statement" as in the verbal part?

Peter Chung, Tuesday, 5 February 2008 00:35 (ten years ago) Permalink

Yeah. It seemed like a copout.

J. F. Aldridge, Tuesday, 5 February 2008 02:39 (ten years ago) Permalink

Hmmm. Odd to hear that coming from you. A short while ago you were refuting my suggestion that words stifle meaning.
Doubly odd, since I don''t think the statement is a copout at all. It's ambiguous, but I'm wondering on what basis you can call it "faux meaningful".

Peter Chung, Monday, 11 February 2008 15:05 (ten years ago) Permalink

No. You were generalizing the stifling nature of words and dialog, and I was trying to argue that words are an art in themselves, and only stifle meaning when used inappropriately. As in all forms of art, no?
I suppose "faux meaningful" was probably a bad term to use, but I don't feel the statement at the end added anything to the piece. As for calling it a "copout," I did so because I believe in the value of creating self imposed restrictions when crafting art.
I guess I carry this ideology from my experience with poetry, where it's traditional forms: sonnet, villanella, sestina, and any structure with a rhyme scheme is used by the poet as a restriction, and a challenge. In this situation, as it was supposed to be submitted, the film's self-imposed restriction was silence. I feel they broke the silence requirement in a way that seemed unnecessary and lazy. If they couldn't get across the meaning they intended, in the medium they had chosen, with the material they had, they should have worked to find a new way to convey that meaning without braking the sound restriction.
In essence, they cheated. That's why the statement in the end seemed to me a copout. I'm sure you probably heard this argument plenty of times at the festival though.

J. F. Aldridge, Monday, 11 February 2008 18:47 (ten years ago) Permalink

The self-imposed restriction was silence? I'd say not, since the film begins with a voice asking the question to which Hanna answers at the end. In any case, the use of words here merely provide a catalyst for interpretation.

I think you are presuming that the meaning of the film is somehow revealed by the words, and we therefore need not look further. All the words do is clarify a matter of plot. I heard a guy once say about Citizen Kane, that if you just see the ending and discover that Rosebud is the name of the sled, then there's no reason to watch the rest of the movie. I hope you'll agree that he kind of missed the point.

The complaint you make strikes me as similar to that of the legions of LTV fans who dismissed the AF series when dialogue was added. They concluded that the use of words was laziness and cheating on my part.

Peter Chung, Monday, 11 February 2008 20:11 (ten years ago) Permalink

Oops, my fault. For some reason I interpreted "non-narrative film" as meaning no use of language. I don't think I've ever seen a film that didn't attempt some sort of narrative. What would that be, just like spinning fractals?

J. F. Aldridge, Tuesday, 12 February 2008 15:40 (ten years ago) Permalink

These are examples of more typical non-narrative animation:

I started a discussion on "in" at anipages.

Peter Chung, Wednesday, 13 February 2008 18:28 (ten years ago) Permalink

Heh, so a lot of it is like spinning fractals. It'd be interesting to try to detail an aesthetic for something like that.

J. F. Aldridge, Saturday, 16 February 2008 17:20 (ten years ago) Permalink

After watching "In" again and reading all of the anipages posts I've got to say that I think you give the film too much credit. And before you dismiss my opinion with another "if it doesn't speak to you" comment, I'd like to add that I actually did enjoy the film. I enjoyed it the first time I watched it, even with the frivolous qualm I brought up assuming it was being tagged a silent film, and yes I got all the symbolic interaction with the two objects in the beginning of the film. In fact, it was only until the film reached the tunnel sequence that I was tempted to fastforward the flick. Unfortunately, the tunnel sequence ended up dominating the entire film, leaving the context that was tactfully set-up in the beginning to dissolve in the growing tedium of hopping baby makers.
Maybe it's for the fact that I don't have such a reservoir of experience with short films, and so I haven't become jaded and annoyed enough by predictable uniformity to revel in the uniqueness of this piece. Or maybe it's for the fact that in the literary world it's more common place for the writer to make you work for the hidden narrative, and so I've learned to judge the content of the narrative rather than become infatuated by the fact that someone would dare challenge their audience. Whatever the reason, I consider the work to be good,and very interesting, but I can't share in the enthusiasm you give it. Oh's well, maybe it Is to each their own.

J. F. Aldridge, Saturday, 16 February 2008 18:40 (ten years ago) Permalink

I first saw it projected on a large screen at an arthouse cinema in Utrecht, not knowing anything about it, and not knowing how long it would last. (Most independent shorts at festivals run 5- 10 minutes, and most struggle to hold one's attention at even that length.) That viewing was unforgettable and inspiring.

Would it have had the impact on me if it was something I happened upon while surfing animators' websites and I viewed on my laptop screen sitting in my office? Or with expectations built up by someone who was proselytizing its artistic merit? Hard for me to say. I probably would not be writing lengthy theoretical pieces and posting them online.

But since there was some argument after the decision to award the film, and I was on that jury, I feel a duty to respond to those who questioned the reasoning of the judges.

Peter Chung, Sunday, 17 February 2008 18:17 (ten years ago) Permalink

This Aldridge individual seems to show some fine potential for constructive rhetorical engagement.

Or is that critical?

Mark Mars, Monday, 18 February 2008 04:09 (ten years ago) Permalink

Usually critical.
I'm a bit of a dick, I'm afraid. A small dick though, so I'm at the same time ashamed of my presentation and always ready to compensate by being more of an ass. Bottoms up!
Jolly good to see you around again Mark.

J. F. Aldridge, Tuesday, 19 February 2008 22:21 (ten years ago) Permalink

Oh, yeah?

You're making it difficult for me to be a jerk. Let alone a smartass! Damn!

Sonofabitch outdid me there

Shit, I'm gonna go to my room, now...(don't ask).

Mark Mars, Thursday, 21 February 2008 03:24 (ten years ago) Permalink

Not sure how "typical non-narrative" these are, but I've really been enjoying Code Hunters, Fallen Art, and Elephants Dream of late. What's everyone think about them? I love the style of Code Hunters. Fallen Art is devilishly fun to watch. And Elephant Dreams, on the darker side of things, has a definite Matrix feel to me, and ironically enough, reminds me of a bad dream you can’t wake up from.

chopsticktrick, Thursday, 21 February 2008 15:21 (ten years ago) Permalink

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