Monday, May 15, 2006

Review of "Elephant Dream"

This blog post is a review of the DVD short produced by Orange: the Open Movie Project associated with the freeware animation software community for blender.

The movie is released under a Creative Commons Attribution License, which means I'm free to make derivative works of it (although pasting a handful of images is hardly a derivative work) as long as I give attribution. Well, all the images in this post are from the Open Movie Project.

Furthermore, I am one of a few thousand blender users who pre-ordered the film, sight unseen, in order to help fund the project. I originally thought it a fundraiser for the blender foundation, but the foundation itself apparently kicked in some funding as well. Nonetheless, I am proud in principle to support the blender foundation, starving artists, freeware & open source software, and anyone releasing artwork under creative commons licensing. But as a financial supporter of this project, perhaps I have a right and duty to speak out on what they put together.

The movie is despicable rubbish. Big bronx cheers to the producers for letting it get so dark. It's not something I'd share with a five year old: worms crawl over walls and the major narrative development is that one of two human characters has to hit the other one on the head with a hard object. If you're going to make the ultimate showcase for what your software can do, why do you have to use a genre & style that only appeals to the quarter most creepy of teenage boys? I guess given my own artistic style, I was expecting The Incredibles, I got Nightmare Before Christmas, only more creepy & violent.

I've noticed the same thing happen in comic books. I've acquired stacks of comic books ranging from the 1960's to the present. The old stuff occasionally dealt with some serious adult themes but kept a fun, bright style. The new stuff too often goes over the deep end with blood splattering, etc., without getting deep, it just gets dark. Let me say that again, there's stuff that's just twisted, and doesn't go into complex sociological analysis of a problem. For example, a kid decides to shoot Batman and does so for fun-- that's the story. Ape-men fight over women at a watering hole and after gratiutously showing us procreative encounters akin to rape, the males end up killing her-- that's the story. I've even decided against subscribing to one extremely well-written comic just because I thought the ads were bloody evil.

Ultimately, I speculate that this pandering to goth and gore is believed by some to be a response to the demands of the market, and that makes me more angry. I would purchase for my elementary school age children a subscription to the Fantastic Four of the 1960's if it were still being published. I am instead throwing away 1990's comics I'd received as a gift-- my own little book burning if you will-- for fear my son will see them before he's a teenager. They've made an anti-customer out of me, and that cannot be good for business.

Of course, I see this as a calling and opportunity for the church, to find ways to give voice to the hurts and fears of a new generation, so that they don't have to lash out in such spiritually destructive ways. While I wouldn't rule out buying another movie from blender, this one makes me want to find ways to support Christian themes in animation.

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