Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Animated discussions: Tough Stuff

In my previous animated discussion
I said: "It doesn't have to be cute." And I suppose people tend to think of animation as "cartoons" = "kids' stuff".
But animation tells all sorts of stories: fantasy or fact, love or war.

Now when it comes to war I am not talking Blood and Spatter stuff.
Or sci-fi visions of a post-apocalyptic world. I am now thinking of three very different kinds of war stories, based on fact.

First there is "Waltz with Bashir" directed by Ari Folman and released in 2008. It's based on recollections of friends' experiences while serving as Israeli soldiers during the 1982 Lebanon war - and revolves around recurring nightmares and the narrator's search to find the truth behind the imagery. As such, the film circles towards its climax with the night of the Sabra and Shatila Massacre.

Then, remember I talked about Marjane Satrapi's graphic memoir "Persepolis" in my last post about comics? And that she turned it into a feature-length animation? It was released in 2007, and it does relate to her life in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. But the larger story is that of a young woman "resisting" the controlling powers of her own State; powers that can imprison - and even kill her.

But made before either of these, was the 1986 film "When the Wind Blows" based on Raymond Briggs' book of the same name and his drawings. It's a chilling, moving, depiction of an elderly couple's bewildered response to nuclear war; their trusting adoption of the government advice on how to keep safe during nuclear attack; and their decline amid the biscuit packets and chamber pots in their "inner refuge" built from doors and packing cases. It is a bleak film.

So you say: "But I thought you were excluding post-apocalyptic sci-fi?"
And I say: "Well... the advice they followed was real. It was from a UK govt leaflet published in 1980 and entitled "Protect & Survive" .

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