Sunday, March 2, 2008


Originally uploaded by ddonar
I just posted my recent sketches from Dr Sketchy in Toronto

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Art Direction/Political Satire of "Across the Universe"

This article sheds light on the art direction and how "animation" can significantly influence a live action film

Satire can be an effective tool to deliver a heavy handed political statement in a short concise poignent fashion. It can be scathing or fit nicely within humor, albeit dark.

I believe that this sequence is very effective in making a political statement on U.S. foreign policy or American Imperialism. No doubt there's plenty of room for argument for being defenders of democracy vs. blatant abuse by a super power. The truth lies somewhere in between.

As the article notes, there are some sentimentality of counter culture and 60's idealism, but there are some valid comparisons to the Iraq war and U.S. bunker mentality.

Anyone who experienced firsthand the tumult of the counterculture should recognize the volatile mixture of idealism and rage that runs through the movie and through Beatles songs like “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” which is used so ingeniously that it sounds as though it had been written for the induction scene.

Despite all their whimsy and cheek, the Beatles’ songs were rarely cynical. “Across the Universe” understands that behind the era’s experimentation with drugs and sex and political confrontation lay a fundamental innocence, a belief that somehow it would all lead toward a more enlightened world. The movie’s power lies in its refusal to offer a skeptical, revisionist take on the period. Its view of the counterculture is unabashedly romantic: Those were the good old days, fondly remembered, never to be recovered.

Asthetically, I love the design, choreography, and cartoony looking soldiers. The staging is powerful and highly stylized and symetrical. The uncle sam 3D animation is organic and blends effectively to evoke a creepy invasion into a young man's virtue and ideals.

"In another quick cut the recruits are grabbed from behind by the officers and forced to fall into push-ups as the soldiers step over them without looking down. The humiliation of young men, still clad only in briefs, suggests a ritualized gang rape, after which the victims are yanked to their feet and forced to dance briefly with their abusers, then thrown onto the floor on their backs. Before they have time to stir, they begin to slide involuntarily across the room, their hands shielding their eyes."

There are many other metaphors to discuss and to absorb.

Questions to ask...

How can satire or music be an effective communication device for controversial subject matter?

How does the art direction in this live action film mimick animation? How is it different from animation?

How is this sequence similar to animated films or even political cartoons printed in the newspaper?

Identify an historical example of another country or regime that evokes the same kind of imagery.

Identify other metaphors in this film clip and the meaning/significance.