Thursday, October 08, 2015

Richard Williams: Prologue (2015)

PROLOGUE (Imogen Sutton – GB 2015) D+AN: Richard Williams; DP (live action): Nick Beeks-Sanders; ED (live action): Julie Wild; S des: Adrian Rhodes; compositor: Bram Tthweam; technical advisor: Tom Barnes; special thanks: Aardman Studios; DCP, 6', colour, sound, no dialogue; source: Imogen Sutton, Richard Williams, Bristol.
    Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (GCM), Pordenone.
    Viewed at Teatro Verdi, 8 Oct 2015

David Robinson (GCM catalog and website): "“We have just witnessed animation history,” declared Peter Lord, co-founder of Aardman Studios, following the first screening of Prologue in Summer 2015. “Nobody else alive could have created hand-drawn animation of this intensity and quality...” Other commentators have hailed it as “one of the best hand-drawn films of all time”."

"Its 6 minutes describe an incident in the Spartan-Athenian wars of 2400 years ago. A small girl is witness, as warriors battle to the death. It has no dialogue, but natural sounds. Richard Williams has worked on the film for many years, between other projects. Begun in Canada on a small island near Vancouver, the work continued in West Wales and was completed this year in Bristol, at Aardman Studios."

"Drawing and animating the film alone, Richard Williams has taken hand-drawn animation to a new level of expertise and impact. Breaking animation conventions, the film has an innovative mastery of movement and space, at the same time achieving dramatic and emotional intensity. Williams and producer Imogen Sutton acknowledge the inspiration of Kurosawa but also of the language of silent films, many of them seen at Pordenone over many years. (Williams created and donated the Giornate’s logo trailer, with its morphing portraits of great silent stars.) It was in fact in Sacile that the structure of Prologue was decided."

"Williams says, “I’ve gone back to 1900 and drawn each shot on a new sheet of paper. Then it’s polished with state-of-the-art technology. It has taken over 6,000 complex animated life drawings to create this film.” Each of them astonishes with Old Master precision. Richard Williams is a great draughtsman as well as a uniquely gifted, multi-Oscar-honoured animator.
" – David Robinson

AA: This morning in Pordenone we saw an old epic of almost four hours about Helen of Troy, and now we get a new six-minute animation of stark and reduced compression about the Troyan war by the animation master Richard Williams who has also created the Pordenone trailer of silent film stars' morphing faces.

There was a sense of urgency in Manfred Noa's German epic from 1924 because the film-makers had painful memories of the recent massacre of World War I. Richard Williams's animation has no less topical a resonance because of today's several prolonged wars in various corners of the world which have caused the worst refugee calamity since WWII.

There is a meta-filmic framing story. The artist's work with pencils and watercolours is not hidden. There is a vibrant quality in images of nature. From a monochrome starting point colour emerges, such as red for blood. The violence is graphic. Four men are killed. The little girl who has witnessed everything runs to the broken-hearted mother whose grief no one can tell.

The film is called Prologue as Richard Williams is perhaps planning to film the entire saga of the Troyan war. We look forward for more.
Richard Williams: Greta Garbo in the trailer for Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (Pordenone).

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