Saturday, October 02, 2010

Circus Drawings

GB (c) 2010 Richard Williams & Imogen Sutton. D, AN: Richard Williams; P: Imogen Sutton; ED: Don Fairservice; DP: Charles Pithers, Graham Orrin; anim. camera: John Leatherbarrow; [on print M: Richard Rodney Bennett, cond John Carewe]; 35mm, 796 ft., 8'51" (24 fps); from: Richard Williams. Viewed at Cinema Verdi, Pordenone (GCM) with Maud Nelissen (piano) 2 Oct 2010.

From the GCM Catalogue: "One of our most faithful and distinguished regular guests, the multi-Oscar-winning animator Richard Williams, with his producer Imogen Sutton, has honoured this year’s Giornate by giving us the world premiere screening of his most recently completed film. He has always insisted that the silent cinema is a profound influence on the animator’s work, and it is gratifying to think that the Giornate experience may in some small degree have stirred his decision to return to Circus Drawings.
Circus Drawings has an unusual production history – hence the phrase “most recently completed film”. As the opening intertitles explain:
“In 1953 I was a young artist of twenty, living in Spain near a village circus, where I drew the acrobats, clowns and onlookers.
“Twelve years later I filmed my drawings to an original score but didn’t complete the film.
“Now that I’m 77, I’ve finished the film by animating my original drawings.”
The result is an extraordinary adventure in time. The artist encounters his young, adventuring self. The circus artists of more than half a century ago – where can they be now? – are brought back to life, athletic or absurd, luminous.
The film begins with a montage of the 1953 drawings, revealing that the quality of draughtmanship that distinguishes Williams from other animators was already intact from the beginning. A camera could not read these strangers’ eyes as the drawings do, as timeless and unpretentious as Old Masters.
Halfway, the film turns to colour, and now the older artist takes over, bringing decades’ seniority of experience, and the legacy of working with the Disney masters. These limpses, the sketches animated – a bird taking flight, acrobats, athletes, and clowns, a rope-walker momentarily faltering, trousers falling, a baby embraced, a dress pulled over the shoulders – represent traditional, hand-crafted animation the like of which we may not see again. Forthose with an eye for poetry and magic, this is it.
On release, the film will be shown with sound, with Richard Rodney Bennett’s 1965 score. However, uniquely for this performance, Richard Williams wishes to screen the film as a “silent”, with live piano accompaniment by Maud Nelissen. – DAVID ROBINSON". - First the camera moves inside the 1950s drawings, then the drawings get animated, moving from black and white to colour. A fine animation.

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