30/07/2017

End Of The Week Shorts #16.2



Today's Shorts: Horton Hears A Who! (2008), Danse Serpentine (1900), Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron (2002), The Phantom Carriage (1921)



A fantastic family movie bursting at the seams with fun, it's difficult not to like Horton Hears A Who. The animation and world building throughout are spectacular, the direction is surprisingly good and the voice performances by Carey, Carell and Burnette work wonders. There are a few dud jokes and plot-holes in the script, but it does well in producing a joyous narrative about unity and looking out for the little guys. Whilst this is dumbed down a bit and this film in general presents itself as more of a kids' movie rather than a family movie at times, there is very little to fault with Horton Hears A Who. 
So, whilst I wouldn't say that this is a perfect movie, I'm sure this is one that'll be remembered as a lot of fun for many years to come.



The Serpentine Dance (Danse Serpentine) was hugely popular around the turn of the 20th century. It was a burlesque dance created by Loïe Fuller that involved the manipulation of flowing fabric under changing coloured lights. Countless different versions of this dance where put to film between 1895-1901 and onwards with everyone from the Lumières to Edison to Georges Demenÿ to Alice Guy-Blaché making and remaking each other's depictions of the performance. 
It is this version from Guy-Blaché that expresses just how popular this dance was; to keep the performance interesting to audiences 5 years after the first films depicting it were made, Guy-Blaché shot Madame Ondine performing it a cage with live lions and tigers. So, to anyone who thinks re-makes and absurd rip-offs are a problem unique to the modern age, maybe watch this.



Spirit is a classical tale about freedom, leadership and home that is energised by some terrific animation and a brilliant soundtrack provided by Bryan Adams. 
It cannot be understated just how intricate and expressive the characterisation is throughout this movie. The choice to only provide voices to the horses through V.O is brilliant as it forces a use of ingenious cinematic language and pure cinematic storytelling. And so it's the culmination of the art direction and cinematic direction that provide this movie an incredibly strong backbone as it explores, with a good dose of romanticism, the forceful nature of American imperialism in face of the free 'spirit' of nature. Whilst I wouldn't say that there's much profundity to be found in the subtext of this narrative as it is something we've seen time and time again, it does manage to utilise it masterfully to conjure that tremendous emotional momentum and punch. 
In the end, this is a film I saw when I was a kid and it has always stuck with me. To my relief it holds up and so I wouldn't hesitate in recommending it.



A spectacular, yet equally dark and sombre, masterpiece of early Swedish cinema, The Phantom Carriage has incredible aesthetics weighed in balance with the content of its narrative. 
This is essentially a more profound version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol with far more corrupt characters that face existential questions of a similar class, though, they asked with greater intensity, resulting in a far more impactful emotional resolution. In such, The Phantom Carriage poignantly explores the idea of retribution and death as a question of one's own life, goodness and worth. Added to this there are a plethora brilliant special effects, solidifying this as a mesmerising silent film. 
Certainly one for the film buffs, The Phantom Carriage is worthwhile watch and an undeniable masterpiece.





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