Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Don Hertzfeld:
Nothing Short, Never Surprised

Tonight to Norwich Puppet Theatre where I was once not only on the board, but chair while the brilliant Luis Boy was artistic director. Those were days of financial struggle but the theatre got through it and seems to be prospering. I hadn't been there in years.

What we went to see was Don Hertzfeld's animation, It's Such a Beautiful Day, a triptych, or simply an amalgam of three different films with the same central character.

The first part, Everything Will Be OK is magnificently inventive, funny and grotesque. Stick man Bill  has an apparently ordinary but deeply troubled life. He has visions and accidents and exists on a plane of psychological detachment in the presence of random threatening events..

In the second film, I'm So Proud of You he returns to childhood, falls sick and dies, but doesn't die, but keeps getting sick, and there are deaths and monsters and nightmares. Bill is clearly in trouble. He might even be senile, and his visions maybe due to dementia.

The third, It's Such a Beautiful Day,  is a long spiritual flight of fancy where Bill finally becomes the answer to the universe and everything in it. On the other hand he is probably dead.

The whole is a mixture between American Underground values c 1968, and Czech depressive  surrealism under Husak combined with a certain individual genius. You might also describe it as a bad acid trip meeting Wes Anderson coming in through the back door. I enjoyed the first part, grew sleepy in the second and was faintly irritated and impatient in the third.

The trouble was anything could have happened to Bill by the end, but, since anything could, nothing really did. When anything can happen there is no surprise left.

But the first part is very good. That's what you have at the top. You probably know it already if only because you are probably smarter than me about such things. I like it because it's a little like those series of surreal events I write.  Happy watching.


Mark Granier said...

Thanks for this George. Never heard of it before. Delightful.

George S said...

You have the best part here, Mark.