Filmmaker / Animator
|John G. Avildsen
|Who Framed Roger Rabbit
|La Belle et la Bête
|Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari
|David Hand, Perce Pearce
|FEHÉRLOFIA (SON OF THE WHITE HORSE)
|The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
|The Shape of Water
|Guillermo del Toro
A personal lifelong favourite - despite the increasingly ridiculous sequels the original Oscar winning movie is a melancholy masterpiece in my opinion.
A tribute to the triumph of the human spirit against the odds and even in the face of loss and humiliation - just “going the distance” is what life is all about after all.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
This film changed my life in many ways - a celebration of classic cartoon animation, a pre-digital technical marvel and a subtle allegory for the racism inherent in Golden Age Hollywood, this film heralded the renaissance of American hand-drawn animation that inspired me to pursue a career in this medium.
La Belle et la Bête
As a member of Young Irish Filmmakers in Kilkenny Ireland I was introduced to this film in a workshop given by a visiting professor from New York, Michael Edelsen. It opened my eyes to the power of cinematic special effects even in its most rudimentary and hand crafted form - and introduced me to the transformative power of myth and fairy tales in the cinematic form. It stands up to this day as a timeless testament to the creativity and artistry of early European cinema.
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari
Again a film I discovered as a teenager in Young Irish Filmmakers - as a Tim Burton obsessed youngster I was introduced to the film as emblematic of the German Expressionist movement that inspired his 1990s films I loved such as Batman Returns and Edward Scissorhands. Again the low-tech aspects of the special effects are in fact timeless reflecting both the paranoid and dark atmosphere of the time in European history it came from as well as the contemporary visual art movements of the day. Another gem of early cinema that stands as a testament to the enduring expressionistic power of film.
Miyazaki's greatest masterpiece amongst a career of masterpieces - this film burst into my consciousness as a young animation student in 1998. It opened up a world of animated film beyond the constraints of American fairy tale musicals. An insight into Japanese animist folklore and spirituality, a timely story of the complexities of humanity’s relationship to our environment and the creatures we share it with and a very human story of bravery and compassion with no clear villains but instead a nuanced look at the human condition all wrapped up in a rip-roaring gory action-adventure movie. It bares endless rewatches and is an achievement on every artistic level from draughtsmanship to the inspired camera work and editing. A film that confirms what every animator knows - that we work with a filmmaking medium not in a genre.
A classic so familiar that it can easily be dismissed as cloying and saccharine yet upon rewatching still packs an emotional punch - with artwork by Cyrus Wong that evokes the forest setting more in impressionistic suggestion than in hyper-realism and with character animation so sophisticated it’s hard to believe it was mostly created by enthusiastic twenty-somethings who only a few years earlier had been churning out rubber hose style Mickey and Donald shorts. Bambi shows the powerful vision of Walt Disney and his team, at a time when the medium was still mostly seen as a disposable distraction before the main love action features, they could see and harness this burgeoning artform in a way that we still strive to recreate today.
FEHÉRLOFIA (SON OF THE WHITE HORSE)
A Hungarian psychedelic and spiritual trip of epic proportions, displaying the utter freedom from realism afforded by the graphic sensibilities of Eastern European animation. A powerful creation myth and fable that evokes both ancient Hungarian Folkart and modern painting movements at once in its lyrical graphic style. Paying no heed to the conventions and tropes of live action this film not only tells its story masterfully but points the way for expressionist and abstract animation as an artform at the same time.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Wes Anderson is the modern master who most inspires me in his wry control of every visual aspect of the screen to the melancholy of the subject of lost glory to the characterful and humorous script and approach to emotion - at once hilarious and poignant. For me, the ripples of memory and sadness the cross Bill Murray’s face when he ponders if the shark who killed his best friend remembers him while surrounded by an array of beautifully drawn caricatures of characters in his tiny submersible show the ability for film to show both our depths of feeling and the absurdity of the human experience at once.
The Shape of Water
A modern fairy-tale as lovely and timeless as any ever created, this film for me is the epitome of Del Toro's monster film fan work. With a whip smart script and powerful performances by all the cast, this film was the melancholy and beauty filled fairy-tale I didn’t know I’d been longing for. The subtextual reading as a story of love across divides, the cruelty of animal experimentation and the quiet strength of the most seemingly insignificant people amongst us add to its lasting power in my opinion.
The unfinished Masterpiece of Richard Williams “the animators animator” has become legend amongst animators the world over. Recently restored by the Academy but available online and in bootleg form as well, the film's intricate and virtuoso use of Persian Miniature art as inspiration pointed a way forward for hand-drawn animation when the industry seemed to be racing towards the dead end of hyper-realism. The art direction by Roy Naisbett and the incredible hand-drawn animation by both young enthusiasts and Golden Age Hollywood masters in their autumn years continues to inspire almost everyone working in the medium today. Although never finished, the legend of its 30 year production as a passion project funded by endless commercials and side projects has become a touch stone for anyone who sees the animated feature film as an artform with the potential to rival any other.