Tuesday, 22 December 2009

David Nicolas - Partizan Lab

The first person I would like to study for Jared's project is a Mr David Nicolas. Here's a link to his bibliography on the (Numero 6) Partizan Lab's site. (for some reason the video clips don't work on the web page)


He was responsible for making a music video that I used to know as a kid, which was for the song "Superman Lovers - Starlight".

Its about a man who dreams of becoming a singing star on tv, and so enlists the help of a little mouse to try and make his aspirations happen. He takes control of the TV network and puts his song on for all to see. Unfortunately, his song is not a success with the nation, but instead attracts the attention of some aliens with better music taste.

This video hosts some fantastic animation and presents some quirky looking character designs. It is very unique and has an interesting style.

However, this is not the video I want to focus on in this post. The music video I want to analyze is of a song called "It's Not The End Of The World" by Super Furry Animals. I watched this very recently on another artist's Youtube favourites list. It's amazing how you find things randomly like this! Haha!

This animation tells the story of a child growing up and becoming a soldier. We see him get enlisted and meet his superiors and how his superiors act in the conflict. There is some very iconic war related imagery in the clip. Examples include scenes where the soldiers being waved goodbye as their train departs, the man receives the letter in the mailbox asking him to join the army, and the bombs dropping through the hatch at the bottom of the plane. These help the viewer see that it is to do with war. Without showing these parts in the music video, it might not have been as obvious that the film was about conflict.

Occasionally, we see the singer in the form of one of the puppets appear. He is pictured descending what looks like a never-ending spiral staircase whilst singing and playing a guitar. I learnt from Dickens' book "Hard Times" that staircases often suggest how a person is ascending to heaven or descending into Hell. Baring this in mind, I think this shot of the singer may symbolize how the world is slowly tumbling into a hellish chaos.

There are some nice reoccurring themes in the film that contrasts the life of a child with the life of a soldier. We see a young boy playing with a remote controlled tank toy, and then later on we see the soldier's tank trundling along. Again, we see the little boy with a paper airplane, and then moments later we see him taking the role of a pilot in a war aircraft and being parachuted down from the skies. There is also scene where the boy is playing with a toy boat in his bath, and before this we see the navy ship sailing in the ocean.

What I really like about this animation is how it represents war visually. The themes are supported by the way the animators have chosen to animate this. The boy's appearance doesnt change that much in the film, with the exception of uniform and clothing. He retains his big baby head and little body. This exaggerates the fact that he is still very young and yet he is participating in a life threatening and frightening career that requires a lot of bravery and courage.

The concept is set in what appears to be a machine operated puppetry machinism. All the scenes flip in and out of the shot in a rather machanical fashion. All the scenes are contained in one box-like stage, and change very frequently. Shutters are used to narrow the frame and focus in on important parts of the scene. At one point the singer is magnified by a set of lenses. The mechanics remind me of the arcade game scene after the credits of James and the Giant Peach. I tried to find a clip of it on Youtube, but I couldn't find it. Hopefully you know the bit I mean. This style makes the world we live in appear to be manufactured and unnatural.

Everything is pretty much in Sepia, making the scenes seem rusty and colourless. This effectively dates the movie, making it look older. There are a few parts of the video that have colour. The little puppets' eyes glow red. Maybe this is to represent the life that may be snatched away from them because of the war.

Numero 6 achieved the special jury prize at the 2002 Imagina Festival and took silver at the D&AD awards in the same year. I think this is deservedly so, considering that I havent seen an animation like this at all. It represents war in an effective way, and I commend it for that.

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