My continued research into film for inspiration has lead me to some interesting places of late.


On my further quest for the aforementioned dystopian technological bounty last night I watched both Alphaville and Phase IV. What makes Alphaville (by hugely famous French director Jean-Luc Godard) interesting is the use of the simplistic design of the time in particular places around Paris. It manages to make a plausibly futuristic looking set without creating anything new whatsoever. By limiting the viewer to a series of plain looking rooms and repeated character close ups the story becomes completely reliant on dialogue. Helped along by occasional narration and a distorted, frog like (no pun ((or offence)) intended) big brother style speeches outlining the manifesto of ‘Alpha 60’ Alphaville’s head honcho. The simplicity of the film was inspirational, not quite as much as Le Jetee but still in the same ‘Noir’ vein. The story was successful somehow by the information it withheld as opposed to what was shared. That said however, perhaps it was lost in translation a smidgeon but I did find it hard to follow on occasion. Currently my ideas act as smaller illustrations of a larger narrative but the simplicity of this makes me realise holistic story telling is achievable.

In browsing what to add to the sci-fi arsenal in my brain next Phase IV really stuck out. Mainly because it was directed by graphic design god Saul Bass. The film was unfortunately average, but the metal clad, superfluous monitor riddled laboratory it was set in gave me lots of food for thought on how to present my animation on its completion. Dystopian machines are always salvaged from both futuristic and archaic sources so I think observing technology in film as a whole is always relevant to my research.

Silent Running, which I watched recently is also worth a mention in that case. The film is certainly post apocalyptic but its hard to decide wether it portrays a utopia or dystopia. Negatively nature is being governmentally disregarded but on the positive the other characters seem fine with the artificial produce thats provided. In addition the main character in defence of the natural resources on board is portrayed as a murderous loner. Either way what makes this film enjoyable aside from the main character’s mania and an OK storyline is the sets and model making used throughout the special effects. Not surprisingly the film’s director Douglas Trumbull had previously supervised the best special effects to date in Kubrick’s 2001. The sci-fi standard of seemingly ignored monitors in mass is prevalent in the space craft on which the film is set. Interestingly the majority of the film was shot aboard a decommissioned aircraft carrier making me curious as to how many of the little screens where ever in use. The next film I wanted to mention was The Return, it too mentions the disparity between the freedom of nature and the confinement of technology.

I stumbled across this as a related link to a series of slightly less interesting animations a friend posted on that most deadly of self gratification tools – Instagram. Stylistically its somewhere between french animation genius Rene Laloux, (Fantastic Planet, Gandahar, Time masters etc) and the Yellow Submarine animation, in other words its the Cat’s Pyjamas (extremely good). It has made me reassess the animation I have been working on. Although it fits the brief of the a computer virus hold screen aesthetically – it’s style and speed without narration is inadequate for portraying a narrative. The way in which ‘The Return’ uses animation is extremely simple but intelligent at the same time + more importantly something I could take on board. More often than not the imagery itself is not moving however the view of the image is always changing. By swooping across or zooming in and out of large imagery the viewer is transported from A to B with minimal actual animation. Which perfectly builds on the slideshow element I so loved from Le Jetee.

On reflection the virus animation is on target to be an aesthetically pleasing part of an installation which tells part of the larger narrative. Although I’ll fill the gaps with a displayed story and interesting installation it still feels a little like waking up wearing a t-shirt and no underpants – something is missing. Moving forward I need to make moving image portraying at least a partial story but I want to finish before I go to the next chapter, I’m not in the habit of giving up on work before its completed.