Sunday, 15 May 2016

REVIEW - PROLOGUE (RICHARD WILLIAMS)


A boldly, bracingly cinematic pencil-drawn animation from Richard Williams, not playing upon the oxymoronic nature of that aspect of his film's identity, a crucial aspect though it is, but engendering it as a means of overcoming the potential staidness of his old-school artistry. It's a smart ploy - not to claim that the animation in Prologue is anything less than lovely - since this short film's success is predicated upon its simplicity. Thematic, artistic, durational complexities are all jettisoned, and what remains is fable, told with modesty, executed with flair. Williams' surprising, occasionally disorientating use of movement, the drawings undulating to mimic the motion of rigged-up live action cameras, gives Prologue a singular feel among animated films, particularly shorts. It lends it a slightly cheap, commercial tone, though is invaluable in expressing the film's spatial dynamics and sense of urgency. Intense close-ups, vivid colours and an excellently designed soundscape contribute toward a fabulous sensory experience, compelling and immediate; Prologue is graphic too, in ways that few Western animations are. So little time, so few shifts in perspective accommodated, yet when they do they are harsh, as though excoriating all we thought we knew about the film, and recalibrating its content with different meaning and purpose. Williams' live action opening sequence informs us not of the story itself, but of the details in that story's creation; by the end, it has circled back somewhat, contextualising the events that we've witnessed, and become so distracted by. The real story comes in the aftermath, just as in real life.