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Title: Australian Animation Aesthetics
Contributor(s): Rutherford, LM  (author)
Publication Date: 2003
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Abstract: It is only recently that animation has come to be scrutinized as a "serious" art form by film scholars and analysts. Traditional cel animation is so closely associated with the cartoon and with children that it has often been denigrated as mere entertainment. The economies of studio-based animation in the United States and the rise of cheap, character-based merchandising as an impetus for animation design have made any discussion of an animation aesthetics a modern development in film studies.This paper attempts to trace an aesthetic tendency in Australian animation for children. While it may seem a grandiose suggestion to claim that there could be a single aesthetic for Australia's product, it is possible to demonstrate that certain industrial, cultural and economic factors, together with discourses in writing for children in this country, have shaped an artist-focused product which is more developmental in its approach to the animated form. My case in this paper is that a hybrid aesthetic characterizes Australian animation for children. Even among animators and filmmakers who use more orthodox cel animation (with its conservative narrative moves) as their major production technique it has, until very recently amongst the larger producers, been possible to identify a parallel interest in the expressive potential of the animated form which theorists have begun to call "developmental." This hybridity is not merely a function of media and form. It can be seen in the discursive moves which balance narrative and character-driven strategies against thematic-driven narrative to privilege discourses of ecology. This is not merely a matter of inserting the "pill" of the message in films which are predominantly entertainment; the reflection on cultural and ecological practices drives story selection, influences choice of media, and creates a tension which has the energy of art as well as fiction.To illustrate this thesis, I have chosen two symptomatic texts: Dot and the Kangaroo (Yoram Gross, 1977) and episodes from the animated series The Web (Eco Productions/ Film Australia 1993-95). These films are not only separated in time by almost two decades, they come from two ends of the production spectrum. The first is a feature film by a successful commercial producer with international market reach, juxtaposed with a highly subsidized, "hands on," series of short animations, produced with educational and artistic goals in mind.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: The Lion and the Unicorn: a critical journal of children's literature, 27(2), p. 251-267
Publisher: John Hopkins University Press
Place of Publication: USA
ISSN: 0147-2593
Field of Research (FOR): 200599 Literary Studies not elsewhere classified
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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