In “The End of the Show,” a popcorn-shaped character boldly declares that animation is not merely to be enjoyed by young children or people with mental handicaps. Animation allows the filmmaker an opportunity to explore the purity of the medium – “Robots!” another similarly-shaped figure interrupts.

All of the films that comprise animators Mike Judge’s – of “King of the Hill” fame – and Don Hertzfeldt’s Animation Show transcend the traditional belittling of animation, brilliantly exploring the medium by going beyond the physical limits of traditional filmmaking. The 2003 Academy Award nominee for best animated short film, “The Cathedral,” for example, takes 3-D animation to an entirely different level of quality, far beyond that of the 2001 box office-bomb “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.”

The 1992 Swedish release “The Ride to the Abyss” generates the most rhythmic and picturesque appeal in its execution, as the interplay between the orchestral accompaniment and the colorful, painterly acrylic images exudes a vivid liveliness beyond comparison to any other film.

Director Tim Burton’s 1982 contribution “Vincent” stands out, as the plot – a seven-year-old boy named Vincent dreams of being Vincent Price – and Price’s own narration make this short film mischievously hilarious.

The film predates Burton’s most popular mixture of clay-mation and animation in the 1992 film “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

Another 2003 Academy Award nominee, “Mt. Head,” bases its concept from the traditional Japanese Rakugo story “Atama-yama” – after a stingy man eats a plate full of cherry seeds, a cherry tree grows from the top of his head. After deciding he shouldn’t waste time trying to get rid of the tree, the tree blossoms and grows, attracting picnickers to the top of his head. The concept alone makes the modern visual interpretation of the tale worth seeing, as animation is the only medium where this story could be told visually.

Hertzfeldt’s 2000 animation classic and 2001 Academy Award nominee “Rejected” is one of the more bizarre and humorous of the shorts. Garnering its name from the Family Learning Channel’s rejection of Hertz-feldt’s promotional segments, the film joins relatively barren animation with experimental animation techniques and largely improvised, random dialogue to form a harmony of absurdity at its finest.

In a perverse tribute to the 1956 film “The Red Balloon,” Hertzfeldt’s award-winning 1998 “Billy’s Balloon” features many balloons’ homicidal interactions with children. The film is at once outrageous and comical in its horrid absurdity.

Judge’s animation short “Office Space” features the character Milton and serves as the inspiration to his 1999 live-action film of the same name.

“The Rocks” gives an unusual perspective of the history of mankind – that of two rock formations who discuss man’s technological developments. The mixture of computer-generated imagery and stop-frame animation in this scene results in a stunning visual display, especially in the sequences featuring a rapid progression of time.

These films, however, are merely some of the offerings of the Animation Show, and there are many other beautiful, enjoyable and awe-inspiring shorts in the schedule. These shorts proudly give animation a respectable place in the realm of filmmaking, as worthy as any other experimentation in the medium.

The Animation Show will play at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. this Saturday at the George Eastman House, located at 900 East Avenue. Admission is $6 for students.

Schnee can be reached at cschnee@campustimes.org.



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