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Keep it in Motion - Classic Animation Revisited: 'Bingo'

Every Thursday, Chris Robinson takes a look at films from animation’s past. Today's screening is Chris Landreth's Bingo (1998)

'Bingo' by Chris Landreth

Bingo is a masterpiece of absurdity complemented by stunning and original computer graphics and character designs that enhance the film’s nightmarish dialogue and atmosphere. And where did Landreth find his inspiration for the visual look of the film?  “It came,” he says in all seriousness, “from a revulsion to clowns. I grew up in Chicago when there was John Wayne Gacy (the American serial killer who frequently entertained neighbourhood children dressed as a clown). He left a kind of a mark on a lot of people, including me, of how bad clowns can really be. So Bingo definitely hit a nerve there. Some beautiful ugly clowns came out of that whole memory and mishmash and stuff, and made its way into an environment that I’m very proud of. That environment was a very collaborative one, with this guy named Ian Hayden.”

Bingo, however, is more than just a surreal visual farce.  Landreth own starting point for the film was the famous line by the Joseph Goebbels: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Even though the man knows the truth that he is not Bingo, after enough bullying and repetition, he forgoes his identity for that of the clown. On one hand, the quote is an obvious criticism of how the media and politicians mislead and manipulate the general population, yet it also shows us just how fragile we are in our skins. Rather than fight, the man takes the easy road. It’s easier to just accept that he’s bingo than to fight for his true beliefs. Sadly, that’s a reality that many of us know intimately.

Chris Robinson's picture

A well-known figure in the world of independent animation, writer, author & curator Chris Robinson is the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival.