CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 3. . . . October 4, 2002
There is little doubt that this 2001 compilation of four animated shorts from the National Film Board has wit, charm, and a certain flavour of the absurd. Because it is animated, there would be some likelihood that it would be purchased for use in elementary schools. But this would be a great mistake due to the adult and somewhat anarchic nature of the content.
The first short, "The Boy Who Saw the Iceberg," is a split screen animation where a young boy's day to day life is paralleled with his imagination. At some point, the fantasy becomes the reality. The concept is accomplished with sophistication by Oscar nominee, Paul Driessen.
In "No Problem," a middle aged bachelor struggles with his fate in life and what to do with another lonely Saturday night. His psychoses begin to take over his thoughts and actions, and unfortunately one of the psychoses is pictured nude with certain animated body parts! While most professionals have mixed attitudes towards censorship, this short film is not worth the grief it would create by showing it in an elementary or junior high school.
"La Salla" is a comic opera with subtitles featuring a character who sets up a mindless set of disturbing events without heed to any consequences, which (among others) include a cow stuck up the nose of one of the characters. The whole feature is achingly juvenile and possibly pointless.
In "Village of Idiots," a retelling of a Jewish folktale, Shmendrik, the hero, sets out see the world and discovers a village that is the mirror image of his own. Odd, that! This film is the most traditional of the four and certainly has potential for use in schools. Unfortunately, it also contains some questionable language which would preclude its use with younger students.
This set of four short animations from the National film Board will likely be offered in its Children's catalogue and even at nominal cost would be a mistake for schools to purchase. However, it's probably a must have for art schools or film studies. So, it is not entirely without merit or a few chuckles.
Anne Letain is a teacher-librarian and school library consultant in Southern Alberta.
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