Thursday, 18 May 2017

Sculpting Class 3

Creating more likeness with the charcter of Marie from Splatoon. Adding more structure to the head, eye lids, eyebrows, ears, hair and hair pieces.

World Cinema: Ethel & Ernest (2016) Film Review

Fig 1. Film Poster
Ethel and Ernest is a 2016 British animated film directed by Roger Mainwood, based upon the graphic novel of the same name by Raymond Briggs. It tells the stories of the life of his parents, from when they met, to their first house, birth of Raymond, his childhood and finally into their old age and ultimately deaths.

The style featured in this animation is greatly inspired by the artwork of Raymond Briggs and his graphic novels. This very illustrative, with bright yet watercolour-like colour palette brings the characters to life, with red shades in the fingers and cheeks to show the living blood in these characters, especially compared to the backgrounds of the similar style, to contrast and differentiate which is animated and living and which is just background. This also symbolises that these are in fact living people and not just characters, but have real-life counterparts. This redness and lack of blood flowing is shown in both of the character's deaths, as they have both become still and non living, just like the background.

Fig 2. Ernest and his new job
The storytelling in this film is very emotionally involving, as it shows the characters from when they both meet and the hardships the two go through, involving the audience in their intimate lives. The storytelling also include much of British culture, such as the countries politics, a feeling of 'keeping up appearances' especially in the character of Ethel. The characters are likeable and have a very humorous moments, which have even greater impact of the darker tones in the film and how these affect their lives, such as the lack of success of trying for a baby, WWII, and the sombre ending of the two characters. This intimate storytelling causes the audience to become very emotionally involved in the film and it's characters, allowing the audience to not only listen to their story but share their experiences.

Fig 3. Ethel in the hospital.
The ending to the film of death of the two characters is quite a heart-wrenching ending to the film, but it is quite common with British animation, such as another Brigg's inspired film The Snowman, in which the snowman melts, teaching important lessons of loss and death and how this is is a part of life, and has a much more realistic portrayal of real life. The ending does become bittersweet, as Raymond and his wife both stand in the garden, looking upon the tree he planted as a child.

Overall, Ethel and Ernest is a greatly emotionally involving animated film, which creates characters full of life and likeability, and presents the ups and down of life of families, and how they cope with the bad times and enjoy the good times.

Illustration List:
Fig 1. http://www.showfilmfirst.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/ethel-and-ernest-roger-allam.jpg
Fig 2. http://images.radiotimes.com/namedimage/Behind_the_scenes_of_Ethel___Ernest.jpg?quality=85&mode=crop&width=620&height=374&404=tv&url=/uploads/images/original/125906.jpg
Fig 3. http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2016/11/05/13/3A0986E400000578-3907080-In_one_of_the_most_moving_scenes_in_the_film_it_is_1971_and_Ethe-a-10_1478351211818.jpg

World Cinema: Persepolis (2007) Film Review

Fig 1. Film Poster
Persepolis is a 2007 French-Iranian animated film by Marjane Satrapi’s, based off of Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel of the same name. It tells the story of Marjane Satrapi and her coming of age during the Iranian Revolution, how the revolution changed how she lived, and her life from leaving home to another country.

The themes in Persepolis focuses on how war can drastically affect the lives at the centre of the conflict as well as what it leaves behind, such as how Marji sees first hand the death and destruction that is made during the war, and how her outspokenness and interests in punk and metal music could in fact land her into deep trouble with the authorities, she is sent away to Austria so she can be herself. This presents a political idea that war has led to a strict regime of rules that affect how people can be themselves. The story follows on to show Marji travelling from place to place, falling into depression, and divorce, and how she is developing of coping without her family for guidance, who she soon returns home to. After the death of a friend due to the authorites chasing them, she is sent away once again, and is forced to promise not to return. She does so and narrates that this would be the last time she would see her grandmother, whom she was very close to.

Fig 2. Marji's Western interests
The animation style of this film derives from the style from the graphic novel, which is quite clean and thick black lines, which itself could be seen as being inspired from French art such as Art Nouveau, with the great contrast of black and white with thick clean lines. This still fits the serious themes of war and death, as well as depression and oppression, effectively as the great amount of black  shown for when Marji is wearing her cowl, reveals only her face, that her true self is not being presented and how she is not allowed to do so, contrasting to the brightness of white and little black used when she moves to France is wearing more revealing clothing. As well as smooth black lines used, there is also use of shadow theatre used during several scenes throughout the film, such as when she is sent out of the nun's home and house surfs from place to place over the winter holidays, this effectively shows how she is passed from house to house, no where stable to live and how the character of Marji is developing more and more into being more independent compared to how she first arrived in Austria.

Overall the animation style is very enjoyable to watch, with the comedy elements as well as the very appealing art style, which allows for a great amount of storytelling which explores the very serious topics of depression, war, oppression, and how war affects an entirety of people and how the main character has to develop in these circumstances.

Illustration List:
Fig 1. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/0b/Persepolis_film.jpg
Fig 2. http://stmedia.startribune.com/images/1persepolis0118.jpg

World Cinema: Waltz with Bashir (2008) Film Review

Fig 1. Film Poster
Waltz with Bashir is a 2008 Israeli animated film directed by Ari Folman. It tells the story of Folman and his experiences after trying to recover his memories as a soldier in the Lebanon War in 1982, and presents the shocking reality of war and it's aftermath.

Waltz with Bashir tells several different experiences from the Lebanon War, in a very documentary, auto bibliographical way, with the style similar to that of a comic book or graphic novel style, with thick black lines, and simple but detailed illustrative-like designs of characters which fit the more shocking and serious themes and genre of the film. This style is used by the director Folman to recreate his memories and dreams from the war, and what is interesting is that the director had not done animation prior to making this film, as he was a documentarian, which explains why this animation film is like a documentary, and this format allows for the serious subjects to be taken seriously, compared to other animated films which are for entertainment for children and should not be taken lightly as 'just' an animated film.

Fig 2. Film still
Throughout Waltz with Bashir the topics of the reality of war is frequent throughout the film. It is incredibly serious and emotional, especially in the reoccurring dream sequence which accompanied by a musical score which emphasises the importance of the scene, of bombs dropping down upon buildings. Many scenes involve death of both soldiers and innocents in quite graphic detail involving blood and screams, but not too graphic so that it does not undermine the impactful ending to the film.
The ending to the film is the most shocking part of the film, which reiterates the point that this animation was in fact from real life experiences. It shows real life footage of the wreckage of a city, with women crying and screaming in turmoil as the walk around the crumbled buildings, with bodies lying crumpled and lifeless under the rubble, and falls upon several bodies, showing their faces of men and women, and falls upon a child laying face up in the sand and brick.

Fig 3. The reality of war
Waltz with Bashir is an emotionally shocking film, which a documentary format to the animation to recreate how the event of the war is real, and the aftermath is too indeed real with the death of innocents and soldiers, with the lasting effects upon those who survived the war. The style of the animation suits the medium for discussing war and death, as if it was entirely reconstructed with actors and such it may turn many viewers off to not finish watching the film, but by using this comic book style invites more people to watch without dealing with too graphic blood and gore etc, which allows for the reality of the situation at the end of the film to be even more impactful and meaningful.


Illustration List:
Fig 1. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/9f/Waltz_with_Bashir_Poster.jpg
Fig 2. https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/G/01/dvd/sony/WaltzWithBashir/WaltzWithBashir_6.jpg
Fig 3. http://images3.static-bluray.com/reviews/1495_2.jpg

World Cinema: Sita Sings the Blues (2008) Film Review

Fig 1. Film Poster

Sita Sings the Blues is a 2008 American animated film which was written, directed, produced and animated by American artist Nina Paley. The film features a more sympathetic view of the story of Sita, a loyal wife to Rama, as well as the discussion of history of the characters, and snippets of the artist's own life, with the mythological and modern day stories run parallel throughout the film, sharing themes of loyalty to husbands and proving of fidelity. There are several styles incorporated into the film, such as Indian Shadow Puppets, Traditional paintings, 2D flash animation, and sketchy illustrated animation, each to differentiate between each parallel running narratives.

There are many styles throughout the film that reflect the narrative each segment is telling. The telling of the Ramayana is animated more simply than other parts of the film, with static backgrounds with the characters designed in a more traditional and painted style, to reflect the traditional use of these paintings to tell such stories as the Ramayana, and throughout the film these segments begin to feature slightly more modern comedy. There is little animation, with more posing and positioning of characters than actual animation, as well as simple moving of the mouths to animated speech. This style of design and little animation reflects the historic dialogue it is retelling.

Fig 2. The traditional painting style
The second segments of the film presented a shadow puppet style, which like the painted designs, were too used to tell stories such as the Ramayana. This segment features unscripted narration with comedic moments and discussion of Sita and Rama's life in between the Painted design and the jazz music segments. These segments are very interesting because it presented three different peoples views and variations of the same story, and the style compliments this idea of discussion rather than a direct retelling from a script.

Fig 3. Indian Shadow Puppet style
The third segments of the film feature various jazz music, accompanying a more modern relation to the historic stories, and with a more modern medium or flash-like animation, with more comedy. These segments first create the links between the relation of these old historic stories being relevant in more modern times, allowing for a further link between Sita's story and Nina's story to be made.

Fig 4. The flash-like animated musical style
The final segment of the films that are shown throughout the film is a more illustrative and sketchy, boiling lines type of style, these segments tell the story of the artist Nina, who's husband tells her not to return to him in India, who leaves her heartbroken and is how she came across the Ramayana, to animate into the film being watched all along. The narrative reflects how Sita is rejected by Rama, and presents the idea that the traditional stories have relevance in today's society. Roger Ebert compares that "Both were betrayed by the men they loved. Both were separated by long journeys. Both died (Sita really, Nina symbolically) and were reborn--Sita in the form of a lotus flower, Nina in the form of an outraged woman who moves to Brooklyn, sits down at her home computer for five years and creates this film.” (Ebert, 2009) presenting how both narratives do in deed correlate with each other.

Fig 5. The Sketchy style featuring the life of the Artist
Overall there is a light-hearted and comedic upbeat theme running throughout the film which creates a very enjoyable experience for this interpretation of the Ramayana to be told, blending together a variety of styles and multimedia which creates a very bright and colourful animated film.

Bibliography
Ebert, R. (2009) rogerebert.com (Accessed on 17/05/2017) http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/sita-sings-the-blues-2009

Illustration List:
Fig 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sita_STB_Poster.jpg
Fig 2. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/a3/6d/78/a36d780054aa6ef76b6f712fe4fb9041.jpg
Fig 3. http://viddsee.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/SSTB-SS2.png
Fig 4. http://www.buddhasasana.net/dharma-records/images/Sita-Sings-the-Blues/Sita-Sings-the-Blues-04.jpg
Fig 5. http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/mediadiary/1100226/752767/752767_original.jpg

World Cinema: Spirited Away (2001) Film Review

Fig 1. Film Poster
Spirited Away is a 2001 Japanese animated film, directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli. It tells the story of a young girl Chihiro who, while moving to a new neighbourhood, is transported to a fantasy land, takes a job in a bath house for spirits, and looks for a way to return to the human world and rescue her parents.

Spirited Away features many elements of Japanese heritage, folklore and mythology presented throughout the film, such as river spirits, bath houses, shapeshifting, dragons, witches etc., which create a vast interesting cast of characters, such as a polluted water spirit, which allows for Chihiro to prove herself to do a job well done. Haku the shape shifting dragon who helps Chihiro around this strange and interesting world. The six-armed man in the boiler room, along with all the soot sprites who help Chihiro get a job at the Bathhouse. This cast of spirits and mythological creatures not only create an enjoyable film, but also create a very folklore and myth-filled world which was enjoyed by audiences from all around the world.

One aspect of the film that is interesting to western audiences which makes it different from western animated films is the style. The Japanese style of drawing and design, being very light yet bold colour palette and intricate detailing, creates a very historic, heritage and fairy-tale like quality to the film, such as old Japanese drawings of the mythological creatures, in which designs not many western filmmakers would create or include specifically for a children's animated film. As well as traditional designs for spirits that would differ from western films, the designs of the dragon would also differ from a western film. As Haku's dragon form is snake like, with fur and long tendrils from the nose, short legs, and flying without wings, which is influenced from eastern dragon designs, this differed greatly from what most western audiences would expect a dragon to designed as, such as large, four strong, dinosaur-like legs, long barbed tail, scaled, horns, and powerful leather wings. One factor that Spirited Away was able to allow for audiences everywhere to enjoy the film was that despite the fact that not everybody would know of the mythology behind each creature, or perhaps why it is set in a bathhouse, or perhaps even what a bathhouse is, is that the background behind each character isn't required to understand the story.

Fig 2. Chihiro and Haku in his dragon form

As well as the mythological creatures and characters shown in the film, there are also several themes presented throughout the film, such as being coming of age, environmentalism, greed, and the blur in the line of good and evil in the forms of story and characters. The film presents greed in the form of the character No-Face, a spirit who becomes what he is due to his environment. In the bathhouse where he is allowed in by Chihiro, and soons produce gold for the greedy workers to take, who is then consumed by No-face, who increasingly eats other workers in the building when Chihiro refuses gold from him. There are two characters which present the them of environmentalism and pollution in the film, being Haku and the Stink Spirit. The Stink Spirit comes to the bathhouse to become clean again, and only after Chihiro discovers something is stuck inside it and pulls out the bike handle, an avalanche of rubbish and junk pours out from the stink spirit, revealing that it was in fact a River Spirit, who had become heavily polluted with bikes, tyres and other general waste. Haku is a river spirit who had forgotten his own name, until Chihior works out his true name and that he is in fact the river spirit who saved her from drowning in a river now cemented over for apartments. The Coming of Age is shown throughout the entire film and in the character of Chihiro, who is a young girl moving to a new town, and the whiney character at the beginning has completely transformed by the end of the film into a much mature and independent character who has gone through many trials of work, rescuing her self and her parents, and changing the lives of Haku, No-face, Boh, and the workers in the bathhouse forever. The idea of that good and evil are not so easily separated is frequent throughout this film which is quite unlike western animated films. The boss of the Bathhouse, Yubaba, is quite controlling of her workers, strict, and quite cruel, but does in fact have an overly love for her baby Boh, enough so that she cannot be considered truly villainous. Her sister who sent the paper bird to take down and nearly kill Haku becomes a very caring Grandmother figure by the end of the film. These twists of characters do portray a much more realistic representation of life outside of the film, that the world is not as black and white as perhaps presented in western media.

Spirited away is one of Japan's most successful films of all time, which features a great array of colours, styles, likeable and relatable characters, interesting folklore and mythology, as well as important symbolism and themes which entertain not only viewers of any age but also around the world.

Illustration List:
Fig 1. http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/studio-ghibli/images/4/4a/Spirited_Away_%28Amerikansk_DVD%29.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20140116135457
Fig 2. https://i.ytimg.com/vi/_jGXcSBcvQQ/maxresdefault.jpg