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50' · o.v. No Dialogue
These five short films, made between 1943 and 1973, are shown chronologically in order to showcase the evolution and diversity of the filmmaker’s genius. After the cheeky imagination of the early works, co-written by Jacques Prévert, the films became increasingly political, while the art tended towards the abstract. Paul Grimault’s final film, Le Chien Mélomane (1973), sums up his worldview quite marvelously: the military companies are called PAX, the nuclear weapon is a violin, destruction is a melody and a garbage collector is the one who averts the disaster.
But let’s hear from one of his most ardent admirers, another animation genius who directed such masterpieces as Grave of the Fireflies (1988), Only Yesterday (1991) and Pom Poko (1994) and co-founded Studio Ghibli with Hayao Miyazaki: Isao Takahata. He has always stated that seeing La Bergère et le ramoneur (an early version of The King and the Mockingbird, which Grimault disowned) in 1952 made him realize this was going to be his profession”.
Isao Takahata, from www.bfi.org.uk:
"Characters in pictures come to life and start living real lives – so interesting! When I was a student, I was obsessed by the animated film La Bergère et le ramoneur (1952), a forerunner to The King and the Mockingbird (1980). If I had not seen this film, I would have never imagined entering the world of animation.
Refined colors and exquisite visual perspective creating a fantastical dimension, a series of unexpected ideas, spectacular characterization, the intense uprightness of the world, unique humor – this film was way beyond established ideas at the time and with its surprises and innovations showed me the possibilities of animation films.
I was obsessed not only because its expressions were superb but also because I realized that these unexpected ideas and images were not just fantasies or jokes but instead were concealing the difficult and harsh reality of modern history.
This was not just an old revolutionary fantasy that illustrates liberation from dictatorship and oppression. It is the seemingly contradictory and nonsensical details that hide the tragic truth of the 20th century’s 'history' and 'people'. The creator tells the next generation to be aware of this and be careful of the 'trap' laid by this world".