Idiots and Angels by Bill Plympton

Bill Plympton Autograph & Sketch

I went to the Cleveland Cinematheque last night to watch Bill Plympton’s most re­cent an­i­mat­ed fea­ture: Idiots and Angels (2008). Mr. Plympton was in at­ten­dance and was kind enough to do free au­to­graphs and sketch­es for those who asked. (I asked.)

Before the fea­ture, Bill in­tro­duced us to this short he made with stu­dents in an an­i­ma­tion class he taught. It’s called The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger (2010). I’ve al­ways been very im­pressed at Plympton’s abil­i­ty to tell a sto­ry in great depth, with no di­a­logue. This one is no ex­cep­tion. Here’s a clip.

Next up was the fea­ture; Idiots and Angels. The whole thing was drawn in #2 pen­cil, so it has great depth and de­tail. The artis­tic style and a large chunk of the plot de­vice re­mind­ed me very much of Koji Yamamura’s Atama Yama (2002). The en­tire short is avail­able on YouTube, but em­bed­ding has been dis­abled, so you’ll just have to click through. It is def­i­nite­ly worth it. After you’ve watched it, take a look at the trail­er for Idiots and Angels, right here:

Atama Yama is a sto­ry about a self­ish, an­ti-so­cial man who has a cher­ry tree grow out of his head. Idiots and Angels is a sto­ry about a self­ish, an­ti-so­cial man who has wings grow out of his back. That’s pret­ty much where the sim­i­lar­i­ties end. In Atama Yama the an­ti­so­cial man comes to no good end; the moral be­ing that so­ci­ety is a greater good than an in­di­vid­ual. The op­po­site is the case in Idiots and Angels; where no char­ac­ter is par­tic­u­lar­ly lik­able, the in­di­vid­ual ris­es above an (on­ly some­what ex­ag­ger­at­ed) an­ti­so­cial so­ci­ety. I found it in­ter­est­ing to com­pare how two dif­fer­ent cul­tures dif­fer in their ex­po­si­tion when start­ing out with the same el­e­ments.

Idiots and Angels was good, but not great. I felt that the ex­po­si­tion dragged at some points and that the edit­ing shift at the end de­railed the sto­ry for a good 5 – 10 min­utes. The art, sound de­sign & mu­sic was all su­perb, and Plympton was a com­plete­ly per­son­able and gra­cious guy.