The British Animation Invasion
1991 Directed by Various.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., June 28, 1991
This compilation of animated shorts runs close to two hours and genuinely sustains your interest throughout. The variety and inventiveness are apparent and the vitality and humor are contagious. The films employ a variety of animation methods though most of them favor hand drawing and stop motion techniques over computer assisted methods. Often in feature-length compilation films there is the feeling that much of the material included is simply filler for the really good stuff that by itself is insufficient to sustain the feature-length. Not so, this time. Virtually all the pieces in this showcase collection are winners. One, Tony Park's “Creature Comforts” even won the 1990 Academy Award for best animated short film. It uses clay-mation techniques to interview several zoo animals regarding their discontent. My favorite is Charlie Fletcher Watson's “Bluefields Express,” which offers a 5-minute animated capsule of Nicaraguan political strife. It's amazing for its brevity, density, comprehensiveness and simplicity. Probably the only familiar work is the inclusion of Stephen Johnson's stop motion video for Peter Gabriel's “Sledgehammer,” which itself set new standards of excellence in music video production. Typically, many of the most interesting, entertaining and focused works are product commercials -- an area in which animation has always been a frontrunner. Generally the problem with showcase collections like this is that there is simply too much sensory input in too compressed a time period. (The often indecipherable British accents don't help either.) Taken out of the contexts for which they were intended, short animated works often drown under their collective weight. It's unbecoming, I realize, to complain about a surplus of goodies, but this British Animation Invasion delivers more cartoon calories than can be metabolized in one sitting. These are not the extra-lite variety.