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Keep it in Motion: Classic Animation Revisited – Michaela Pavlátová’s ‘Words, Words, Words’

This week Chris Robinson takes a look back at a Czech animation classic from the early 1990s.

In 1991, Pavlátová made her mark on the international animation stage with the brilliant Words, Words, Words. People in a crowded bar talk only with visual bubbles and objects. The clientele includes a loner woman, dull couple, and gossipy ladies. There are young and old, and even a drinking dog. People are happy, sullen, drunk, horny, dying, and angry. In the final scene, the once lonely woman, who has lived through the ups and downs of an entire relationship in the bar, recognizes her selfishness, completes the couple’s puzzle (which hangs in the air above her) and races off to her lover. The film then ends as it begins -- with the waiter alone, surrounded by empty tables.

Words, Words, Words is a nifty piece of caricature and insight that takes us through the roller coaster ride of emotions that are human relationships. It’s a situation most of us have been in as observer or observed. We have all sat in a café, bus or patio people watching, catching snippets of conversations and gestures that we then construct into a portrait of the observed. In these moments, we see the spectrum of humanity -- a wonderful, painful kaleidoscope of social interaction.

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“In the beginning,” says Pavlátová, “I had many drawings of people ‘talking’ with bubbles, and then I spent a long time trying to figure out how to put together these individual ideas. In terms of story structure, it’s probably my best constructed film. I remember that the last day, after the final mix, I started to cry because I was so disappointed with the film. But it was my ‘most successful’ one and brought me many surprising awards.”

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.