Friday, November 28, 2008

Top Films: Brad Bird

For the use of animation as a tool to tell truly meaningful stories, with messages worth discussing, see Brad Bird. As a filmmaker, Bird has until now used animation to tell his stories, but he treats them as movies like any other. (This has at times caused problems when he asks for a shot that until then was never attempted or even possible in animation.) He hates the designation of animation as a genre and he is right…it is merely a medium that usually has had false limitations imposed on it. Here are the three films he has made so far:

The Iron Giant (1999)
A box office disappointment, this film is considered by some as one of the best animated films of all time. It is visually appealing and the story is great, delving into issues such as choices, responsibility, the concepts of right and wrong, and also paranoia and our tendency towards violence and war. Another important story-telling device is the sacrificial love shown by the giant similar to the concept J.K. Rowling used in the Potter books citing her Christian faith as inspiration.

The Incredibles (2004)
This is the film that almost got Brad Bird in hot water. He wrote a story that everyone thought would be impossible to deliver in animated form. Its story is also surprisingly grown up for the medium. Mr. Incredible struggles with be fulfilled in his work while at the same time doing what is best for his family. He is a man gifted to help others, but doing so will endanger his marriage and family. Maintaining two separate worlds seems the only way to make things work. Or is it?

Ratatouille (2007)
This film is a bit of an “ode to art.” Too often “Art” has become about who is popular or acclaimed; less about talent or message “Art” has become a bit of an elite realm. Instead it should be about joy and expression and above all about truth. The scene at the end of this movie involving the culinary critic Anton Ego is a great critique of current criticism.

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