05 February 2013

The Mouse Imitates


This post would have been much enhanced by an image of the Oscar statuette given to the winners of the Academy Awards.  However, as I learned from The Wikipedia when looking for one online,
"There are no free equivalents of this image since all depictions of an Oscar statuette are subject to the copyright regulations of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. No image showing an Oscar can claim to be free, regardless of the license under which it may be released on Wikipedia (see below). All of the Oscar-related images on Wikimedia Commons are either Oscar icons created by Wikipedia users, or photos of giant look-alike Oscar statues. Therefore, they do not accurately depict an actual Oscar statuette."


About a year ago I posted about one of my favorite authors, William Joyce. Quoting myself, "His imagery and wit are sublime and sublimely charming.  I first learned of him via a book titled Dinosaur Bob and his Adventures with the Family Lazardo. Note: There seems to be a revised edition which changes the story somewhat.  I prefer the earlier version."

In 2011, Mr. Joyce teamed up with Moonbot Studios for a work -- a digital book --  titled The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.  Interestingly, the animated short came before the print version of the book.*

The movie is no longer available online.  You can see a preview of it at its website, MorrisLessmore.com (click on the FILM tab).  And here's the blurb from the studio:
[from the Moonbot Studio Vimeo description]  "Inspired, in equal measures, by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and a love for books, “Morris Lessmore” is a story of people who devote their lives to books and books who return the favor. Morris Lessmore is a poignant, humorous allegory about the curative powers of story. Using a variety of techniques (miniatures, computer animation, 2D animation) award winning author/ illustrator William Joyce and Co-director Brandon Oldenburg present a new narrative experience that harkens back to silent films and M-G-M Technicolor musicals. “Morris Lessmore” is old fashioned and cutting edge at the same time.

 “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” is one of five animated short films that will be considered for outstanding film achievements of 2011 in the 84th Academy Awards ®."

Clearly someone at Disney had been watching. Their Oscar entry -- Paperman -- in the 2012 Best Animated Short category 'borrows' much from Moonbot Studio's animated version of the book: pre-OZ black and white coloring, the whirl of books around the protagonist (here office papers), the 19th-century brick building background; the whimsical soundtrack, and the ambiance of historical setting (here mid-20th century). This being Disney, the woman's eye's are as enormous as her waist is tiny. And this being Disney, where happy endings are de rigueur, boy gets girl. (In Joyce's tale, girl saves boy saves girl and who knows whom she will save.**)

Still, though I grouse, Paperman has its charms.


* Update (12 Feb 2013):  I have finally received my copy of the book.  It has turned out to be something of a disappointment.  The ink on many pages is too dark, the text is pedantic, and the storytelling ponderous.  Lost is the whimsy of the tale; indeed, much of the tale is lost altogether.  So apologies to Mr. Joyce, whose work I love, but in this instance the movie IS much better than the book.

**  Perhaps the Disney folks read some of the reviews at Amazon.  Those who posted the lowest score of 1 for Joyce's book were rather bent out of shape, e.g. "This is a book about a man who gets old and dies."  The inability to see the beauty in the story and in the man's life - in all our lives -- was outweighed in their eyes by reality.  As if poetry and art cannot exist with the real.

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