Fantastic Animation Festival (1977)

Genre: Experimental Animation

This is a great compilation of mostly psychedelic animation from the early to mid-1970.

We start with French Windows, which has Pink Floyd’s One of These Days I’m Going To Cut You Into Tiny Pieces as its sound track. This launches us through a barrage of psychedelic visuals akin to an animated early 70’s progressive rock album cover. Made by Ian Emes, who was self-taught and who invented his own techniques by trial and error. Incidentally, this film led to an invitation from Pink Floyd to direct a rear projection film for their Dark Side of the Moon concert tours.

This first film more or less sets the tone for the rest of the movie as we are treated to a great selection of short animated cartoons, most of which are set to music with very little dialogue.

Some of these cartoons are amazing and must have been a bi-product of some very high quality LSD which was obviously doing the rounds at the time.

One of my favorite cartoons was Bambi Meets Godzilla. I can’t tell you anything about it without ruining it for you, but all I can say is its brilliance is in its simplicity.

The History of The Wheel is also another one which is a great piece of surrealism.

As well as music by Pink Floyd, we also have Cat Stevens with an animated version of his song Moonshadow. In this, and the song, a young boy finds the moon has fallen out of the sky. The artwork is based on the same artwork used on the cover of Cat Stevens’ 1971 album Teaser and the Firecat on which the song Moonshadow appears. This film was directed by Charlie Jenkins who had previously worked on the special effects for Yellow Submarine (1968). It’s narrated at breakneck speed by Spike Milligan, which goes in contrast to the dreamy visuals.

We have one Max Flieister episode of Superman from 1941 entitled The Mechanical Monsters. It features some great 1940’s era designs for futuristic robots and a mad genius dwarfed by the controls to his machines. It actually fits quite nicely within this compilation because of its imaginetiveness, with it literally radiating with colour.

You’ll also get to see Steven M. Lisberger's trippy Cosmic Cartoon. He would later go on to direct Tron (1982). Also included is Room and Board by Randy Cartwright. He would go on to animate the magic carpet in Disney’s Aladdin (1992).

Another great piece of music can be heard in the cartoon Mountain Music. This was made by Will Vinton and is all done in detail using plasticine. The producers cleverly create a 3D effect which they call “3-Dimation”.

In it we are shown moving over a forest - watching the wildlife - when we come upon a three piece band playing some great folk music. Suddenly the band becomes electrified with amps and speakers appearing out of the ground. This continues out beyond the band into the countryside around as everything begins to metamorphosize.

Will Vinton would go on to make The Adventures of Mark Twain (1985) as well as various commercials, most notably the ones for The California Raisins.

At the end of the compilation we are treated to another piece of animation by Will Vinton. This time it’s his Oscar winning Closed Mondays. This film takes place in an art gallery and again this has been made in detail using plasticine.

As a drunk wanders around the gallery, different exhibits come to life. The character of the drunk, his face and head are excellent alone.

There are a total of sixteen cartoons included and I would definitely recommend this great compilation to anyone who likes experimental animation or those of you who are in need of some mind-expanding entertainment.

It was Grace Slick singing the lyrics to the Jefferson Airplane song White Rabbit who called out:

“Feed your head”. 

Watching this compilation would definitely help with that 'call for action' and it’s definitely given me a taste for more of the same.

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