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I truly have to admire the works of Chuck Jones. He made a name for himself directing Bugs Bunny shorts for Warner Brothers starting in the 1940's (although he directed many other animated shorts during that era,including animated training films for the U.S. government,some of which featured scripts written by Theodore S.Geisel,later to be known & loved by generations as Dr.Suess),moving on to creating The Road Runner in the 1950's,and moving on even further to working on directing animated programs for television in the 1960's,to animated feature fare in the 1970's. Every now & again, he would surprise us with something different & left of centre. 'The Dot And The Line:A Romance In Lower Mathematics',a short he directed for M-G-M in 1965 is a shining example of this. The story (read by veteran British actor,Robert Morley)is simple:a straight line is madly in love with a dot,who only cares for an abstract squiggle line. This causes the line to re-evaluate his position on things. The concept of abstract animation is by no means a new idea, but Jones (with assistance from co-director/co-writer Maurice Noble)manage to pull it off nicely (the idea for animating abstract images actually hearkens back to silent films in the 1920's,and later augmented by classical music in the 1930's & beyond). Well worth seeking out if you're idea of animation is something that is exclusively for children.
This short won an Academy Award and justly so. While others have said the scripted narration is not terribly good, I disagree. There are one or two excessively florid points, but Robert Morley's marvellous reading covers those and overall, the scripted narration is good. The animation succeeds in part because of the narration. Chuck Jones and Maurice Noble have every right to be well pleased with this cartoon. Why it isn't in print, I don't understand. Highly Recommended.
I remember watching this as a young child. It was a real treat to be able to see it, since it wasn't like the other programs I'd watch. Although there was only one Dot and the Line, it was better than the Rugrats. The Dot and the Line will remain a part of what defined my childhood. When I told my friends about this great cartoon, they didn't understand what made it so interesting or funny. The art style alone is enough to try and find this film. The last time I saw it was back in 2000. Flash forward a few years. I'm walking through SF when I find myself at a small sidewalk sale. I take particular interest in one book. The title seems familiar. It's a reprint of Norton Juster's book. If you can find it, the book is just as good.
When I first read the book version of the Dot and the Line, I had to supply the voice and "music" in my imagination, but I thought the book was wonderful. Just a few lines on a page and some words, but it really was romance. The justification for the characters' behavior was so real! I felt for the Line from the very beginning, and hated his rival. My feelings for the Dot were mixed. I just kept wishing she would come to her senses and see the Line for the great guy that he really was! When I was able to view the animated version a few years later, I was happy to see that my own interpretation was pretty much spot-on. I did enjoy the music, and I enjoyed seeing my characters come to "life" as it were. The movie was a faithful rendering of the book, which to me is still a classic! I lent my copy to a friend over ten years ago, and have not gotten it back yet...it is still making the rounds and I hope, making many other people smile.
Experimental animators usually commit the mistake of thinking that
experimentalism must be hermetical, non-objective, and abstract. Chuck
proves his point by making an animation film which brings characters and a
storyline, but makes it look like a wild piece of experimental
Without sound, the film would look like wild moving pieces. It's the narration and the soundtrack who do the trick. Weird non-objective mathematically abstract images who become human-like characters just with a little voice and music. Brilliant.
I'm personally impressed by this piece, since I saw it on TV as a kid, and instead of learning mathematics out of it, I decided to be an experimental animator. And I am one now :)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Under the guise of an educational documentary Chuck Jones here again astounds with one of his most impressive works. Here he not only breathes life into but creates a story about two geometrical figures. In a way this film reminds me of the Ludwig von Drake educational shorts by Disney with the distinction that Jones makes the "math" the center of attention and makes these shapes seem real, instead of having the narrator be overbearing. This film was nominated for Best Picture at the Cannes Film Festival. And it's no wonder it's a great and original work that is a metaphor for human relationships more than anything else. It's also worth noting that this film was unusual and unique when it came out and will continue to be so as the nature of animation has changed drastically. If you have the chance watch this master work by a master director.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a 10-minute short film from 50 years ago that won the Oscar back then. And even if I did not like it as much as I hoped I would, I am still fine with this decision by the Academy. One reason is that I can see smart writing in here, even if it did not really appeal to me, but the much bigger reason is that it got Chuck Jones an Oscar finally. He was possibly the most notable cartoon director from the 20th century and it's nice to see him awarded finally. He co-directed this one with Maurice Noble, somebody who worked on films like "Dumbo" or "Snow White" and was also a prolific animator since the 1930s, just like Jones himself. "The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics" is probably a really good watch for everybody with an interest in mathematics, or I should maybe say geometry as I have always been quite fond of mathematics himself. The romance story in here was so-so and to me personally it felt more like an educational movie than something which really has a decent deal of emotion. They could have increased that one for sure. Then again, making a moving (in the sense of the heart) film about a cold and factual subject like mathematics is probably a really tough challenge. I guess Jones, Noble and Norman Juster made a solid job all in all taking this into account. However, I hoped for more looking at how this won an Oscar. Not recommended and there are hundreds of short films that Jones made that are better than this one.
No longer working at Warner Bros., Chuck Jones made this mystifying
short about a drab delineation in love with a dot. He can't catch her
attention until he realizes that he can make angles and all sorts of
Now that I've seen "The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics", I would say that it's the sort of movie which I wish that I had seen in math classes. Directed by Jones, it's certainly a clever one. However, I wouldn't call it the greatest cartoon. All the stuff about the scruffy squiggle sounds a little bit like they were chastising young people for being independent; ironically, the whole cartoon seems kind of psychedelic! So, it may not be Chuck's masterpiece - in my view, "What's Opera, Doc?" easily gets that distinction - but still worth seeing. Narrator Robert Morley also starred in "The African Queen" and "Theater of Blood".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The date of release on this short subject cartoon was Dec. 31, 1965. It
strikes me as an early cartoon look at computers and the logic of the
digital age well before their commercial time. It reminded me also of
the Morse Code which had been invented in 1836 (and I studied as a
youth and later in the U.S. Army). Of course, here the mathematics is
all geometrics. And, hidden within the cartoon is social commentary, a
moral of sorts.
"The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics" is a splendid cartoon. It's from a story by Norton Juster. The humor of the dialog read by Robert Morley is quite good. It's a delight to watch the various contortions like a child drawing lines and angles in a frenzy on paper. The line is the "hero" of this piece. He finally wins over the dot (the heroine?) when she sees through the unkempt and disheveled character of the squiggle. I could see variations on this pattern a cartoon of dots and dashes. How about "binary beginnings." Or maybe, "logic bent out of shape?"
It's a pretty sophisticated and somewhat educational cartoon. It won the 1965 Oscar as the best short (cartoon). I probably saw it in a theater originally, but saw it again a couple of times in recent years. It came as a bonus on my DVD of "The Glass Bottom Boat." I think most viewers will enjoy this artistic short. It's a cartoon that has more than one angle.
Following the closing down of "Termite Terrace" the true home of the
beloved Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons in 1963 and after
completing a few more Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner shorts, animation
legend Chuck Jones left Warner Brothers for an unfruitful stint at
revamping Tom and Jerry at MGM. To counter this perhaps, he also turned
his attention to some highbrow stuff on the side of which, the Oscar-
winning short under review is one example and the feature-length
fantasy THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH (1969) would be the culmination.
What we have here is a series of colourful lines, one of which falls for a red dot, which in turn is infatuated with a doodle (here called "squiggle")! Despite the good counsel of its ilk, the line still mopes after the dot and literally bends itself out of shape to impress it. Before long, the 'jazzy' uncouthness of the squiggle dawns on the latter and it recognizes and starts admiring the 'square' qualities of the line. It must be said that rotund character actor Robert Morley's narration adds invaluable gravitas to the thin plot line. Apart from perhaps wishing kids to love their maths lessons, one could also take this as Jones' denigrating commentary on contemporaneous European abstract animators not to mention the emerging hippie community!!
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