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Keep it in Motion - Classic Animation Revisited: 'The Red Book'

Every Thursday, Chris Robinson takes a look at films from animation’s past. Today's screening is Janie Geiser's The Red Book (1994)

'The Red Book' by Janie Geiser

Imagine you’ve got amnesia. You’ve lost, forgotten everything, even language. How would you find yourself again? What would happen to us? We are so defined, shaped and even erased and limited by language, what would happen if we started from scratch. What if you forgot English and then learned Japanese? Would that also make you a different person? Is that what Janie Geiser is exploring in her dreamy cut out feminist film noir, The Red Book (1994)? I have no idea (ok, some idea), but it did get me thinking about how big an impact language has on our identity… and probably even physical influence…the way we look, move, react (I love the quiet stillness of Red Book. It’s about a search and yet – unlike, say, standard Film Noir films - there’s no sense of anxiety or dread, just a sort of calm, matter of fact reclamation quest/process). Would a new language change a chaotic reactionary person into a more subdued and meditative soul? There’s also the issue of WHO creates the language. If women are learning a language that was created and shaped and reshaped by men, does it not clash and suppress their ‘natural’ state of being, thinking and speaking? I mean I guess I can say the same thing. I’ve learnt a language that was passed down to me. I’m inheriting the filtered channels of teachers, parents, friends and other influences – all of whom acquired filtered versions themselves. So… jeez… who the hell are we then? No wonder we’re always in search of ourselves. We have no idea who we truly are. We fret about mind-controlling devices, but aren’t we already imprinted upon the moment we’re born? Can we ever find a self that arguably never existed to begin with? Maybe that explains desire and hyper consumption? There’s a discomfort… a snap, crack within many of us that we desperately seek to… but we’re not sure with what…. cause really, nothing can fix it… cause there’s nothing wrong to begin with. How can you find that natural state, that single, true identity when it wasn’t even there from the get go? Dont feel sad though cause it’s kind of amazing. You’re free to be whoever the fuck you want to be. Imagine that.

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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.