Fresh From the Festivals: December 1999's Film Reviews
The End of the Earth The Indescribable Nth
Russian animator Konstantin Bronzit has created another crowd-pleasing comedy with his production of The End of the Earth (Au bout du monde). The premise of this drawn-on-cel film is deceptively simple: a house, perched at the very peak of a mountain, rocks back and forth as inhabitants and visitors walk in a door on one side of the home and out the other. Its humor is quite understated, with gags based on timing, perspective, and sound, all used sparingly. Quirky characters -- a woman and man who live in the house; their dog, cat and cow; a passer-by who arrives first with sheep and later a jazzy sports car; and even a flying bird -- add to this unstable world. Through various gesticulations and unintelligible verbal exchanges, these small characters are imbued with a lot of personality.
Bronzit, the film's director, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he attended art school, graduating in the early 1980s. He has made several other short works that have appeared at festivals worldwide, including Switchcraft (1994), about a man who is continually disturbed by a mysterious creature which refuses to be trapped. The End of the Earth was produced by the French firm, Folimage Valence Production.
It is the characters' visual design which highlights The Indescribable Nth, a children's story about a boy whose most treasured possession is a snow globe containing a heart -- his own heart and the love that it embodies. This precious item is guarded by the boy's father, treated roughly by his first girlfriend, and finally treasured by a young woman who seems to be his perfect match. The story is based on Stephen D. Moore's book of the same title, published in 1991, and uses English-language narration.
Black line drawings on a white background create a strong graphic look and capitalize on the studio's specialization: hand drawn animation. Stylized and expressive, the film's characters and their environments lend visual interest to the simple tale. The Indescribable Nth was directed by Oscar Moore and produced by Character Builders, a commercial animation studio which has contributed artwork to a number of animated features, television series and commercials. The studio was co-founded by Jim Kammerud, Jeff Smith (creator of the Bone comic books), and Martin Fuller in 1986.
Maureen Furniss, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor and Program Director of Film Studies at Chapman University in Orange, California. She is the Founding Editor of Animation Journal(John Libbey, 1998).
The End of the Earth
The Indescribable Nth