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Produced by Richard Condie and Ches Yetman; directed and animated by Richard Condie
National Film Board of Canada, 1991 .VHS cassette, 9:09 min., $21.95
Distributed by the National Film Board of Canada

Grades 7 and up/Ages 12 and up

Reviewed by Frances Daw Bergles.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

The Apprentice/L'Apprenti is from the talented pen of Manitoba animator Richard Condie, creator of Getting Started and the Academy Award nominated Big Snit.

This cell animation has a malevolent, minimalist landscape where flowers jeer and the sun threatens. Speaking in ideographic "bubbles," the apprentice court jester disagrees with his master about the direction to the castle and sets off on his own. According to the jacket blurb "when an apprentice departed from his master's lesson another kind of lesson began." If so, only by default.

Fortunately for him, the apprentice cannot get past a tree (either he knocks himself out running into it or the apples hit him on the head and knock him out). He is finally forced to return to his master, who remained waiting for him at the crossroad. As they proceed on the master's road, they see that those who took the other road crashed to their death over a cliff.

Condie is known for his subtlety and it is evident in this video. Indeed, his animation is at times so subtle as to be non-existent; for example, he uses a blank screen to indicate night and unconsciousness and makes the story­line intelligible through sound. While not comedic the video has some fine comic references: for example, a sand-watch, an arrow-riddled Arthur just after attaining Excalibur, and an arrow-riddled sign.

Coming after The Big Snit this film is a disappointment. As a reviewer I was compelled to watch the video a number of times and found that it worked better on second and subsequent vie wings. However, it is unlikely that most people will want to see it more than once.

The Apprentice will be released theatrically this spring along with a number of other films as part of the National Film Board of Canada Anima­tion Festival.

Frances Daw Bergles, Saskatoon Public Library, Saskatoon, Sask.
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