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I have a fetish for films made entirely of cutout images. There's an
film called "This is a Recorded Message" made right around the same time
that also uses a similar cutout technique. Both films use
create their point. However, where "Message" is scathing critique of
advertising, "Frank Film" uses advertising images to construct a moving
autobiographical portrait of the film maker, Frank Mouris. I was amazed
the way Mouris was able to find all these thousands of images and then
them all together with two overlapping soundtracks that perfectly match
It works beautifully, without at all being confusing or hard to follow.
wish there was more I could say about the film, but words escape me.
Of course, I should mention some specific moment from the film that had an effect on me, but in this case the whole film is that one moment. It never gives you time to reflect on what you've seen until its over. When Mouris' voice mentions television, hundreds of T.V sets fill the screen, forming complicated patterns. Similar things happen throughout the film: specific words trigger an array of objects, forming intricate designs. It's stunning.
This short, which most deservedly won the Academy Award and I believe has
been included in the Library of Congress's Film Preservation listings as
well, defies description with mere words. It must be seen to be
appreciated. At first I found the two separate soundtracks jarring, because
the same person recorded them both. But gradually, I began to flow with the
two distinct, yet equally interesting, narratives. The visual images
correspond to one or the other narrative at different points. Compelling to
This clearly was a labor intensive project, as any form of stop-motion animation has to be. Think about how long it took to shoot just 60 seconds worth of film and realize this is nine minutes long! Well worth tracking down, I saw this on Sundance Channel last night. Most highly recommended, but if your idea of animation begins and ends with Bugs Bunny or Speed Racer, you may not care for this at all.
Frank Film is a wonderfully done film. The film is a scrap book on film, but much much more. Frank Mouris uses a collage effect that will leave you breathless. It is hard to amagine the time and effort it took to make this short film. The film basically is an autobiography of Frank's short life. What adds to the brilliance of the film is the two different soundtracks. The film will keep you jumping back and forth between the two. Frank Film is definitely one of the best examples of a short film and it deservingly gave Frank Mouris an Oscar for this grad school project. If you can get your hands on a copy, it is worth taking the short time to watch.
So I just got finished watching this animated short by Frank and Caroline Mouris that won the Academy Award for the year it was made and was put into the Library of Congress' National Film Registry during the '90s. In it, Frank is speaking in two soundtracks: one telling his life story and the other listing words that start with "F" or something with a similar sound. This happens as constantly flashing images of something relating to whatever subject is at hand is mentioned. It's initially fascinating to watch and hear but after a while I wondered when the whole damn thing would end! Still, it's worth a look if you're curious about this sort of thing.
When it comes to experimental film-making, I am the worst possible
critic. Where others see great beauty and vision, I see pretension and
uselessness. As such, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the
animated short, 'Frank Film (1973),' directed by Frank and Caroline
Mouris, is a genuinely wonderful autobiographical piece of film-making.
Over a five-year period, the directors collected a vast volume of
magazine clippings, and these are used to animate the stunning visuals
in the film. There are two soundtracks: in the first, Frank Mouris
continually lists a number of words beginning with "f," as well as
anything else that seems to come to his mind. In the second, he
delivers a personal synopsis of his own life, touching on everything
from school-life as a child to his career-choices in college. These two
soundtracks play simultaneously, sometimes cutting over each other and
occasionally seeming to merge into a single entity.
The animation works like an endless stream of the subconscious. As Frank's meandering autobiography turns its attention towards a particular topic, the visuals unleash a gush of related images. For example, as he discusses his endless love for food, we witness a collage of culinary images, each merging into the other, the memory of ten thousand past meals. This is what I like about 'Frank Film;' just like the best of cinema, this is a film that successfully connects with the way that the human memory works, a stream of long-forgotten recollections brought forth by a simple subliminal trigger. Oddly for an experimental film, 'Frank Film' was awarded an Oscar for Best Animated Short Subject at the 1974 Academy Awards, and, in 1996, was inducted into the Library of Congress' National Film Registry, alongside such iconic pictures as 'Broken Blossoms (1919) and 'The Graduate (1967).'
This Oscar-winning animation is a giant headache and could easily be used by evil, repressive governments to torture and brainwash their people and is one of the best examples of a truly awful film that somehow won this award. While I can definitely appreciate the effort it took making this film (cutting out thousands and thousands of magazine pictures to make collages), the problem is that it is so cacophonous. You see, the sound track consists of two alternate scripts being read CONSTANTLY throughout the film. Both narrators are the same person. One constantly repeats words starting with the F-sound while the other talks ad nauseum about his very dull life--during which time these collages appear and disappear rapidly. The film has no commercial appeal whatsoever and is great for people who like artsy and pretentious film--otherwise beware, as it's totally painful and annoying.
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