For new Saturday Morning Cartoons, please visit the new index.
Sledgehammer: The music video for a Peter Gabriel song, the animation by the Brothers Quay and Aardman Animation blew people’s minds back in the eighties and it is still considered to be one of the best music videos ever made. (3:03 minutes)
Istanbul (not Constantinople): They Might Be Giants are known for their upbeat and unusual songs. This one is a lesson in both geography and history. (3:45 minutes)
À quoi ca sert l’amour?: The title says it all. The song by Edith Piaf and Théo Sarapo, and the simple yet expressive character design is what makes this film. (3:03 minutes)
The Invention of Love: Machine and nature in a steampunk universe. Man and woman in a story of love. Shadow and light in a beautiful film influenced by Lotte Reiniger. (9:45 minutes)
The Thomas Beale Cipher: A cryptographer may be on the verge of cracking the infamous cipher, but others are on the trail of the gold it leads to. (10:16 minutes)
1895: A history of the invention of cinema. Some would argue it’s not the real one, others beg to differ. By master Estonian animator Priit Pärn. (29:08 minutes)
Budapest: “…or some other city where I have never been.” About writing. Part of a series of animated poems by Billy Collins. (.55 minutes)
Photograph of Jesus: A day in the life of a picture archivist. Fun with photos. And I can’t recall any other animated documentaries. (6:50 minutes)
Insert Coin: A tribute to old arcade games. The second half explains how it was done. (4:36 minutes)
Exelence: Maybe not the most productive, but probably the most fun way to use spreadsheets (3:07 minutes)
Snow Angel: Starts off lyrical and quickly becomes unnerving. Written, in part, by John Malkovich. (4:53 minutes)
The Deep: An ocean of mechanics. (1:38 minutes)
Galileo: Jet pack dreams, boy meets girl, and super cute drawing. (4.34 minutes)
The Silhouettes: Trippy and fun. You’ll either turn it off in seconds or be tranced into the full ride. (5.11 minutes)
Studie No. 6: Oskar Fischinger was a German experimental animator. His abstract films, set to music, strongly influenced generations of artists. Studie No. 6 is part of a series of similar films set to different pieces of music. (2:03 minutes)
Lapis: One of the earliest animated film using a computer. It was made by James Whitney using an analogue computer developed his brother John. This one is well worth watching in full screen mode. (9:18 minutes)
Undone: A man drifting at sea, trying to retrieve memories. A sad and effective comment on the filmmaker’s grandfather’s Alzheimer’s disease. (6.23 minutes)
The Evolution of the Book: “My god, it’s full of stars…”(4.25 minutes)
Out of Sight: A beautiful little film, masterfully animated. It’s hard to believe this is a student film, but it is. (5:28)
A Warm Reception in LA: All about what happens when a writer finished his script. (5:06)
UFO: A cute laugh charmingly drawn. (.27 minutes)
I’ll Get the Ice Creams: You know what’s coming, and it’s funny anyway. Wait for the reaction shot. (.57 minutes)
Cycles: Teddy bears play in trafic, while Cyriak’s music plays, birds fly about and people calmly walk by. (2:59 minutes)
Tango: Zbig Rybczynski’s film achieved a similar effect using traditional film techniques. This one is set in a rather crowded appartment. (8:04 minutes)
Old Fangs: Child confronts his estranged father. Dark and very moving. (11.30 minutes)
Umbra: “An explorer adventures into an unknown world, yet it seems that he has been there before.” It’s the leaps of faith that makes this eerie and interesting. (5.25 minutes)
Gahan Wilson’s Diner: A great cartoonist’s only foray into animation. This one is well worth watching. (5:57 minutes)
The Skeleton Dance: Ub Iwerks is one of the great cartoon directors, this is a classic he made while working for Disney which has influenced everything from Corpse Bride to a Michael Jackson video. (5:32 minutes)
All Creative Work is Derivavtive: Nina Paley, of Sita Sings the Blues, takes a look at figurative sculpture taken out of historical and religious context using works from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Insipiring peice on it’s own, I regret the knock-on-the-head title and end message. (2.00 minutes)
The Ostrich: Once you see what’s on the other side… (1.45 minutes)
Trois Petits Points: A seamstress tries to fix the world after the war. (3:33 minutes)
Margarita: A princess’ adventure as she follows her dream. Seems a little over-acted at points but, beautifully drawn and with a good heart. (13:42 minutes)
Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase: A seven minute art history lesson, how many paintings can you recognize in this Oscar winning short? (6:59 minutes)
Legend of the Forest: The story of a forest and its inhabitants, as the story progresses, so does the art style, matching the evolution of animation over a century. Yes, it’s by the same Tezuka who did Astro Boy. (29:28 minutes)
The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics: Love, geometry, Chuck Jones — what else is needed. “To the vector belongs the spoils.” (10:00 minutes)
Le Lac Gelé: An icy surreal moment. One of many striking micro films from the Gobelins school. All so beautifully done. (1:10 minutes)
Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty: “We all know the Grimm fairy tales. Granny’s are grimmer.” And funnier. (6:00 minutes)
The Tree and the Cat: Sit back and enjoy great drawing and a sad ending. (9:29 minutes)
From Darkness: An Inuit ghost/love story. (8:32 minutes)
Vincent: Thwarted by normalcy! “For a boy his age, he’s considerate and nice, but he wants to be just like Vincent Price.” An early Tim Burton short with much more honest charm than many of his recent films. (6:25 minutes)
Nuit Blanche: Just a glance between two strangers. (4:41 minutes)
Garuda: An Indian boy and a mythical bird. So much beautiful design crammed into a minute’s worth of film—I wish every frame was a wall-sized painting. (1:16 minutes)
Lucía, Luis and the Wolf: Two parts that can be watched separately. Seriously, these are super scary. In Spanish, with subtitles—although for those who, like me, don’t understand Spanish, you may find that feelings of fear and claustrophobia from the drawing, stop motion, and sound make it very difficult to read along. (3:50 minutes, 4:03 minutes)
Hungu: “Under the African sun, a child walks in the desert with his kin.” Can something be quiet and epic? (9.10 minutes)
Alma: Nothing good ever comes about when dolls are involved. Beautifully design and creepy storytelling. The lighting and expressions are amazing. (5.30 minutes)
Come Again in Spring: Just a little more time to take care of the birds. (11:50 minutes)
White Winter Hymnal: Helping the sun along. (2:27 minutes)
And an R.O. Blechman CBS Christmas card: An encore selection from last year’s Christmas edition at my mother’s request. (1:20 minutes)
Icarus and the Wise Men: As usual, the wise men aren’t so wise. Beautiful drawings. You know where the story is going but it’s so charmingly told, you don’t care. (7:40 minutes)
Stop Driving Us Crazy: I’ll admit it, this is here because it is just so bizarre. Martians are children of god that look like cars. They need oxygen so they come to Earth to teach driving safety using God’s “right of way.” It’s a big “Huh?” but I couldn’t stop watching. (9:5 minutes)
The Old Crocodile: A cautionary tale about a crocodile so old he saw the pyramids being built and his open-hearted, multi-limbed new friend. (13 minutes)
Second Wind: A surreal little fairy tale from a CalArts student — crazy how good these kids are. (6.37 minutes)
Ryan: A heartbreaking documentary on Ryan Larkin, the highly influential Canadian animator, and his bout with substance abuse and depression. Created in CG to a series of interviews, we see Larkin’s mental illness through physical holes and scaring. (13:55 minutes)
Walking: In painful contrast to the above, Ryan Larkin’s joyful Oscar nominated film that celebrates people’s individuality by observing, simply, how we walk. (5:6 minutes.)
The Dog Who Was a Cat Inside: Pretty much what the title says….Except the the title doesn’t say just how incredibly lonely and charming and sad and sweet it is. Nor does it express how beautifully designed it is. (3:13 minutes)
Going West: Get lost in a book. Incredible cut paper work. Just amazing. What starts as a straight forward reading becomes abstracted and emotive as the movie goes on—making you feel the source material rather than simply follow the plot. (2:11 minutes)
City Paradise: Tomoko moves to a cold and intimidating London…until she finds a secret underground city. Sweet, charming, and a little bit strange. (6 minutes)
Street of Crocodiles: A stop motion classic from the Brothers Quay. A psychological exploration of an internal city in decay. This was one of those films I caught on late night TV as a teenager that, along with Svankmajer’s films, instilled a life-long love of animation in me. It was a revelation that so much can be said through sound, art, and movement that is near impossible to articulate in words. I had the good fortune to see an exhibit of their models earlier in the year, including sets and puppets for this film; report and photos here. (21 minutes)
Engine 371: Progress!? Starts off cute and becomes much more than that. Even though you know where it’s going, it’s jazzy pacing and beautiful dream-scape design keeps it fast and fresh. (9:7 minutes)
Sleeping Betty: Every frame is funnier than the last in this period mash-up Sleeping Beauty story. Made from 7,000 perfect India ink drawings. So visually clever, you can watch it over and over, each time walking away with a new set of favorite moments. (9:13 minutes)
The Gloaming: This office looks way too familiar. By Andrew Huang, who created one of my favorites, Doll Face. (2.56 minutes)
Ida’s Luck: Gotta love the creepy black-eyed girl. ”Everywhere Ida goes, misfortune is soon to follow“ (20 minutes)
Skhizein: An encounter with a meteorite displaces a man exactly 91 centimeters away from himself. I had been waiting to see this for a year—it did not disappoint. (13 minutes)
Marianne’s Theatre: Three layers of theater. The puppets have their own minds. (15.45 minutes)
The Mascot: Before there was Jan Svankmajer and Quay Brothers, there was Vladislav Starevich, the first to make stop-motion animated films with a plot line. The Mascot tells the story of a puppy doll that gets lost in the city. If you need convincing, skip to part two for a few minutes. It begins with Starevich’s famous “Devil’s Ball” sequence where various bits of street garbage, bones, and insects begin to swirl about in a sudden midnight wind, take shape, and walk into a laughing devil’s nightclub. You’ll quickly want to go back and watch the whole movie. And, if you’re like me, you will not quickly forget it. (26 minutes, in three parts)
Attack of the Giant Vegetable Monsters: For lighter fare—edible monster movie madness!! (6 minutes)
For last year’s Halloween edition: The Tell-Tale Heart, The End, and Chainsaw Maid
The Cat Piano: A beat-noir-feline-Poe-ish horror story. Beautifully drawn. Narrated by Nick Cave—it’s as great to listen to as it is to watch. (8.30 minutes.)
The Lighthouse Keeper: Sometimes bugs are the good guys. A Goeblins film. Which means, of course, it’s beautifully designed and animated. (3.15 minutes)
This Way Up: This one’s a charmer if you’re up for some gallows humor that’s somehow very endearing. I watched it three times in a row and laughed each time. (8.48 minutes)
The Falcon: A menagerie in camera parts. A techno soundtracked mood piece. (2.50 minutes.)
In honor of Steampunk Month:
The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello: Apologies for the repeat—we put Jasper in ages ago but it’s well worth a re-watch. This is the coolest steampunk animated short that I know of. (Please suggest others!) A lighter-than-air mystery, beautifully designed—every frame is a pleasure. (27 minutes)
The Aeronaut: Throwing caution to the wind…with some insurance. A very sweet steampunk Icarus. (2.07 minutes)
A Gentleman’s Duel: Gentleman callers gone awry. I’ll admit I don’t love the story, but the machines are very cool.
The Hungry Squid: This is very strange, both story and art. But a lot of fun. A bizarre take on ”my dog eat my homework.” (14.30 minutes)
The Girl Who Hated Books: And the moral is: Books are cool. Not news to anyone here but it’s still a delight to watch. More for kids than the above story. (7.23 minutes)
Disney’s “Mars and Beyond”: I’ve been shy about posting movies that are cut into parts but I stumbled into this 1957 Disney animation “Mars and Beyond” and, holy smokes, is it the coolest thing I’ve seen in ages. It’s a great mix of fact and supposition with an amazing, and seemingly endlessly creative, design. It covers historical astronomical beliefs, the beginnings of science fiction literature, “current” science, and a fantastical array of what-if Martians. It’s both delightful and scientific without ever being silly or dry.
Madame Tutli-Putli: “Jungian thriller? Hitchcockian suspense? Artistic tour de force? The night train awaits you.” (17.30 minutes)
Drux Flux: An industrial assault. (4/50 minutes)
Das Rad: “Apparently, rocks are having conversations all around us, but they talk very, very slowly.” Rocks Hew and Kew watch the evolution of human civilization…and complain about lichen.
Accro: I love the drawing in this. These guys tirelessly keep trying, but they never quite get there.
Wolf Loves Pork: Just before you might think, “OK, I get the technique already,” they do something new (and very funny) with it. (3.55 minutes)
Neighbors: Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s daisy (or pretend you can possess it at all). A classic. (8 minutes)
Cafard: Surreal noir cockroaches. (5 minutes)
Mindscape: Part of the joys of this series is stumbling across movies I somehow saw as a kid but had long forgotten their titles. The imagery in Mindscape’s psychological landscape has stayed with me for decades. I was thrilled to run into it after all these years and see that it’s just as hauting as I remembered. Amazingly, it was filmed using a pin screen. (7.30 minutes)
Surface: A Film from Underneath: I love this. A thousand playful narratives, albeit one unhappy ending. At first glance you may think it’s about the technique but it quickly becomes more than that. (2.30 minutes)
Infinity: An ode to Tokyo. A sweet mood piece. (3.55 minutes)
Monsieur Cok: “Mister Cok is the owner of a large bomb factory. Looking for efficiency and profit, he decides to replace his workers with sophisticated robots.” (9.45 minutes)
The Terrible Thing of Alpha-9: Space-age bounty hunters after a scary monster. Very funny and very cute and a little sick.
Through My Thick Glasses: An elderly man tells his experiences during World War II to his granddaughter. One of the best short films I’ve seen—poignant, surprising, with an amazing fantastical sense of design. (12.30 minutes)
Thoughts of a Falling Glass Man: Harmony disrupted…and rebuilt. (3.10 minutes.)
Oceansize: When oil fights back. A cool SF adventure story. The setting steals the show. I never thought I’d love the look of an oil rig so much. (7.47 minutes)
Scoop Volante: Photographing aliens. Pure slapstick fun. (1.30 minutes)
Fallen Art: This is brilliant, albeit difficult to watch. An interview with the filmmaker, including concept drawings, is on CG Society. (5.45 minutes)
Goodbye Canine: And now to lighten things up a bit, a fun adventure story. Apparently in France the tooth fairy is a mouse. (5 minutes)
Hello: Apologies for the commercial up front but, this was too great to pass up. The same ol’ story: Boom Box falls for cute CD Player. Gramophone offers sage advice. Shy and sweet. (6:30 minutes)
Who’s Hungry?: I’d say it’s a demented Hansel and Gretel story, but Hansel and Gretel is pretty demented to start with. At any rate, this is not for kids…or the squeamish. Via Cartoon Brew, who also have an audience reaction video up. (5 minutes.)
La Femme Papillon: An admirer attempts to liberate the marionette of his desires. Beautifully designed, it sets a claustrophobic but lush world.
Le Cadeau du Temps: When is it time to share and when is it time to quit?
The Sandman: A truly scary bedtime story. Great expressionist backgrounds and lighting. I’d say it’s Tim Burton-esque but it was made before Nightmare Before Christmas. (9 minutes)
Sébastien: Flights of fancy are contagious. From the amazing french animation school Gobelins. (1.50 minutes)
ClickClack: Robots and Rube Goldberg-inspired word play. Delightful. Until it’s sad. But mostly it’s delightful. (5.30 minutes)
Baman Piderman: 20 seconds long—has had me saying “Piderman” for months.
Bendito Machine: Obey His Commands: When it comes to items of worship, it’s out with the old, in with the new. I love the way these little guys move about. (6 minutes)
Two Sisters: This is a deeply emotional and dark story about a physically deformed writer and her caretaker-sister. One day their isolated lives are interrupted by a man compelled to meet the writer. Ten minutes of film that will stay with you for a long time.
Parallelostory: Of course I love all the Saturday Morning Cartoons equally but if I had to pick some favorites, the quiet and sweet outer-space visit in Leo’s Song would be among them. So, I was super thrilled when the creators contacted me last week to say they have a new animation out in the world. Once again, they have created something so simple and tender it can break your heart. (2.20 minutes)
Father and Daughter: This is also a favorite of mine. I’ve been impatiently sitting on this since the start of Saturday Morning Cartoons. From the filmmaker, Michael Dudok de Wit, “‘Father and Daughter’ is a film about longing, the kind of longing which quietly, yet totally, affects our lives.” (8.30 minutes)
Love on the Line: Whether it’s email, txting, IM, or telegraph, it all leads to one thing…even for Victorian cut-out peoples. (5 minutes)
Cecil and Britches: Coal Car Stew: As the filmmaker says, “Cecil is a sock monkey. Britches is a wooden donkey. Together, they get into some things.” It’s as simple and sweet as that. (3 minutes)
L’Homme aux bras ballants: Some jobs never get old. (4 minutes)
Sweet Dreams: Cupcake gets shipped wrecked on the land of vegetables. They learn to live together in a diverse and edible world. Warning: some confectionery nudity. The story is straight forward and yet somehow it’s incredibly strange. (10 minutes)
Fowerpots: Nurture yourself! Delightful, like a flip-book. (5 minutes)
Surogat: As if a Miro painting got a little foolhardy and decided to make itself a date. (10 Minutes)
Apnée: A split second of time told in stillness. (4 minutes)
La Jetée: Not new to anyone here, I’m sure, but worth a hundred viewings. A time travel movie told almost entirely in stills. Well known to be the basis of Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys…while I loved 12 Monkeys, it’s amazing how much more is in this movie only a quarter of the length. (26 minutes.)
Gary: A boy’s crush on an older girl leads him to create a more powerful self….Which turns out about as well as incarnations of power normally do. The design on this is just fantastic. The look is super cute but the story has elements of real fear. In French but mostly wordless and doesn’t need translation.
Pencil Face: Pencil Face will draw your wants. Creepy. But darkly funny. And disturbingly sexy.
The God: Everyone’s got something that gets the better of them (A study in brilliant comic timing.)
She Who Measures: A wasteland of consumerism…told in a very WTFery way.
The Sand Castle: Sand Creatures building a sand castle. A quiet classic.
Zacharias Zombie: Poor Zacharias was born a zombie, chaos ensues.
The Diary of Tortov Roddle: A Red Fruit: Katou Kunio has created a marvelous series of dreamscapes featuring a traveler and his horse-legged pig. There are over a half dozen of these little films. Each is quiet and elegant, with a subtle humor and beautifully drawn.
Strange Invaders: A wee outer-space bundle of…joy. As frantic as the above is serene. From the creator of the classic “The Cat Came Back”
Tes lacets sont des fees: Proving the best revenge is livin’ good. This Dionysos video is delightful…and it has boobies! Drawn by Joann Sfar, who wrote and drew The Rabbi’s Cat. Charles Vess told me I should read it. He was right. You should read it too.
Sebastian’s Voodoo: As dark as the above is delightful. One voodoo doll’s courage.
The Fly and the Eye: Fun with noir surrealism.
Oscuridad-luz-oscuridad: A classic. Eastern block claustrophobia with absurdity and humor. I discovered Svankmajer’s Alice in high school—it’s a likely suspect for a life-long love of stop motion.
Le Processus: Orwellian, in a word. And stylistically fantastic!
Al Dente: Don’t get eaten by the big ogre man.
Imago: An orphaned boy dreams of his father. If this doesn’t make you both smile and get teary-eyed, then you have no heart. Equally beautiful for its storytelling and drawing, sentimental in the best possible way.
Leo’s Song: “When a geometric visitor from another planet becomes your new roommate and shares with you the tragic state of its home world, you drop your guitar and see what you can do.”
Jojo in the Stars: A tragic love story.
Adventures in Broccoli: You know that dream where you keep trying to wake yourself up but can’t? That’s this, only funnier. With broccoli. (Contains some NSFW language.)
12/20/08: Christmas Edition
The Legend of the Turning Stone: A creepy Christmas tale.
R. O. Blechman CBS spot: Christmas with all the charm you would expect from Mr. Blechman.
Frosty the Snowman: Oddly manic and sweet. From UPA, as so many good things are.
Windy Day: A perfect movie, in my book. John and Faith Hubley record their two daughters talking about love, marriage, and growing old and dying. Delightful without eve being saccarine. (Includes princesses and dragons.)
Josie’s Lalaland: A sad and quiet meditation on a little girl’s last days. A beuatiful and atmospheric landscape.
10/28/2008: World Animation Day
Camera Obscura: What the blind man sees. It’s French, and strange.
10/25/2008: Halloween Edition
The Tell-Tale Heart: Poe writing, James Mason reading , UPA animating equals classic.
The End: Scarecrow on trial for befriending a crow.
Chainsaw Maid: Zombie attack. Gratuitous violence…and funny.