Friday, August 4, 2023

Adult Animation - Revisiting Personal Cinematic Landscape

The first time I discussed my personal cinematic landscape, I only had one section dedicated to animation: family. A lot of people have anime films they could add to their cinematic landscapes, but most of the anime I watch is in the form of a series. As a result, I hadn’t really seen much in animation that was geared toward adults. At least, nothing that altered how I felt about animated films in general. I discussed Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), but it was from a genre-hybrid stance, and The Animatrix (2003), but that was from an anthology perspective.
Since then, there have been a great many animated films that have crossed my desk that have not been geared toward young children. Only one of which absolutely altered the way I consume animated films.

From the moment I learned about the existence of Mad God (2021) I was excited. The legendary Phil Tippett gave us a claymation horror film that no one would ever confuse as a children’s flick. It altered everything I thought I knew about animated movies. The man in charge of the practical effects of Jurassic Park (1993) – a movie that stands up even 30 years later – found a way to create an animated film with nothing but practical effects. If anyone had asked me a few years ago if that was even possible, I’d have thought there was no way.
Tippett began work on Mad God in the 80s. As time moved on CGI became better and studios began overusing it. It was disheartening and he almost stopped, but the people he worked with convinced him to continue and even put it on Kickstarter once that became a thing. A revolving door of students was used as help in completing the project and it was released in three parts. Those parts were eventually put together and released on Shudder.
It was an hour and a half of some of the most grotesque footage I have ever seen, and I mean that in the best way.
The main character never spoke a word, but there was a clear story and a hellish landscape filled with so much that it was impossible to look away. Nothing I had ever seen could have prepared me for what Mad God delivered.
I have a different outlook on what animation is now. A word that used to conjure up mostly thoughts of moving drawings and bright colors now has an added, more mature, picture. That image is of hundreds of human hands slowly moving tiny sculptures in a way that builds a unique story that no amount of pretty colors or live-action could have told.
It’s almost as if, in that moment, animated films split off into two very different categories for me. It altered my personal cinematic landscape forever.

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