Case Study

Dyslexia is primarily a short observational documentary opening the doors to what it can be like growing up with dyslexia that uses animation to help visualise narration by the interviewee. I’d compare it greatly to the student film ‘The wolf, the ship and the little green bag’ that uses three different types of animation to visualise stories told by three elderly women.

Traditional Animation has been in use for over a century now. With early iterations in the magic lantern, animation has come a long way. Alongside animation film was born. From old classics like Disney’s Mary Poppins to unforgettable like Looney Toons’s Space Jam filmmakers have merged animation and live action hundreds of times.

On the 17th of December 1964, Disney’s Mary Poppins was released, it gathered 13 academy award nominations and arguably paved the way for mixing live action and animation into the same medium. With a budget of $6,000,000 and grossing $162,300,000, the movie was a commercial success. This could be due it’s warm-hearted nature in a time of international unrest due to the cold war or it’s unforgettable soundtrack. Even in 2017 you’ll still occasionally hear someone humming a spoon full of sugar 53 years after it’s release. Mary Poppins was Walt Disney’s first major live action feature film and ensured that more would follow, but the project was not all smooth sailing throughout the production. The writer of the original material P. L Travers after declining the purchasing of the rights to the IP eventually approved the production on the condition that she was part of the production. Travers originally declined the making of the movie as she felt that Disney, being primarily a light-hearted animation studio, wouldn’t be able to do the books justice. In the end, Travers’s insecurities about the studio were perhaps well founded as she found the harsher aspects of the books had been diluted in the movie with an animation piece in the first act of the movie. Additionally, the movie had a soundtrack written and composed by the Sherman Brothers despite the author requesting that the movie have songs from the 1930s when the books were originally set. This was set aside for the Edwardian era instead after the Sherman Brothers proposed the change.

Despite the author’s distaste in the animation piece, there is no denying the effectiveness of the scene for the time. The mixture of animation and live action had been done before but not to this extent. In the scene, Mary Poppins and others jump into a chalk drawing and begin walking through a chalk drawn environment interacting with 2d objects and characters. The art used was undeniably in Disney’s staple animation style of the time, following those like The Fox and the Hound and Junglebook. The use of rotoscoping allowed Poppins to pick up drawn flowers and stand on turtles for a trip down the river.

Despite Travers disillusionment with the movie and her ruling out any future adaptations of the books, the world loved the movie.

The Wolf, The Ship and the Little Green Bag is a university student film directed by Kathryn MacCorgarry Gray that highlights times in the lives of three elderly women. The film uses animation to illustrate the stories being narrated. The animation variation struck me first. The first story was animated in what seemed like a pastel medium with abstract transitions of scenes and bright colours. This segment told the story of a journey to America from Ireland in the 1950s. The pastel medium gave a strange out of focus effect that went well with vague explanations given by the narrator.

The first story was animated in what seemed like a pastel medium with abstract transitions of scenes and bright colours. This segment told the story of a journey to America (the ship)from Ireland in the 1950s. The pastel medium gave a strange out of focus effect that went well with vague explanations given by the narrator. The second segment looked at the experiences of a woman growing up in the second world war and her abusive father (the wolf). This animation piece used a black sold as its background with white linings which is an inversion of the typical line art animation and gives a dark gritty undertone that is only multiplied by the loose scribbled line art. The third piece I think is the outlier in the film. After the two well fitting animation style the filmmakers decided on using a variation of the art form that calls back to that found in The Snowman(1982) rather than the washed colour pallet found in the Snowman they used greyscale with te only colour found on the little green bag. The cute animation doesn’t seem to fit the story of skipping school and a near death experience but perhaps I missed something. The music in all segments fit perfectly well with the tone and timing of the film. The wolf, the ship and the little green bag is the strongest piece of inspiration I have or my project and for good reason. The casual nature of the interview and the high-quality animation that fits the story makes a great short film to watch.

There was a subtle structure to the film that I only noticed on my fifth view of the movie. It almost follows the three act structure. The journey begins in the first segment. A young Irish girl moves to America and learns new things. The conflict, another girl experiences the second world war and an abusive father and the third a young girl almost drowns and has to dry her clothes on her friend’s heater. Now it’s no five act structure but the pace of the film does undeniable follow the traditional pacing of movies with a status quo the disruption of normality and the return to the status quo.

The wolf, the ship and the little green bag is the strongest piece of inspiration I have or my project and for good reason. The casual nature of the interview and the high-quality animation that fits the story makes a great short film to watch.

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