7 very different animated shorts. Some brilliant in their storytelling, others a
little dull. But all are visual striking and very inventive, with multiple
styles of animation on display
(my ratings are out of 4 stars)
`Riddles for a Candy' (1978)**3/4 8 min.
Funny, playful, but I couldn't quite follow what it meant. More traditional
animation than the other shorts, as a weird character tries to answer riddles,
but the riddles, at least as translated, don't make much sense.
`The Disc Jockey' (1980)**3/4 10 min.
Everything in the short is circular, in the shape of a record, each morphing
into each other. Interesting visually, but doesn't add up to a lot.
`The Vanished World of Gloves' (1982) ***1/4 (16 min)
The history of cinema from silent slapstick comedy, to Fellini, through modern
sci-fi blockbusters all acted out by gloves (?!?). Very weird, not every moment
works but a lot of it is very funny and entertaining.
`A Ballad About Green Wood' (1983 )**3/4 8 min.
A confusing little fairy tale about a log of green wood split into pieces and having
adventures while being transmogrified into different forms. Pretty, with some
interesting underlying themes of death and rebirth, but doesn't quite all hang together.
`The Pied Piper of Hamlin' (1986)**1/2 53 minutes.
Generally considered Barta's best film, I respectfully disagree. I appreciate the
beauty of the woodblock carvings Barta creates here, as well as the wooden world
that surrounds them. And I like his darker re-telling of the story, making it even
more blatantly about greed, and more to the point that the people themselves are
the rats. But it feels like it takes twice the time it needs to tell the simple tale and
make it's points. That said, the images are unique and beautiful, so I'm not sorry
I saw it.
`The Last Theft (1987)**3/4 21 min.
A lot of this is creepy fun, with live actors in manipulated images playing with speed
and color. Once again Barta attacks greed, and a lot of it works, but I saw the twist
ending coming a mile off.
`The Club of the Laid Off" (1989)***1/2 25 min.
My favorite of all Barta's shorts, this dark, trenchant, sometimes very funny satire
of both the stultifying decay and meaningless changes of modern society. A bunch
of abandoned mannequins in an empty warehouse continue to repeat their
pointless actions, until a new, hipper group of mannequins are dumped in with them
and take over. A war ensues, but what is there really to win, except who rules a
pointless world of decay?
Overall a somewhat uneven, but well-sorth seeing collection of brave experiments.