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.