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Inspired, in equal measures, by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and a love for books, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a poignant, humorous allegory about the curative powers of story. Using a variety of techniques (miniatures, computer animation, 2D animation) award winning author/ illustrator William Joyce and Co-director Brandon Oldenburg present a hybrid style of animation that harkens back to silent films and MGM Technicolor musicals. Morris Lessmore is old fashioned and cutting edge at the same time. Written by
The film includes a mix of various animation and live action techniques, 3D computer characters, miniature sets and traditional 2D hand drawn animation. The miniature sets filled an entire motion picture sound stage. Production achieved a staggering number of camera set-ups in a very limited time-frame, doing 375 set-ups in just 5 days. The directors had the animation team relentlessly watch a number of classic Buster Keaton films as inspiration for the Morris Lessmore Character. See more »
William Joyce Tells Us the Joy of Reading in This Beautiful, Poignant and Thought Provoking Short
Like most other teenage bookworms in the 2000s decade, my first love was Harry Potter, not a guy named Harry Potter (!) but JK Rowling's literary magnum opus. I must have read the longest part Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (almost eight hundred pages in length) not less than seven times. For any normal teen like me, fantasy was a wonderful diversion from the usual drab studies. It was the first time I had begun really caring for a character, and not just caring, but supporting, emphasizing and rooting for him. Later, my mind opened by itself and I penned a novella in my little diary at the age of thirteen which unfortunately was misplaced. I remember being disappointed with the way I ended it abruptly, but that isn't the point. The point is that I wrote something original and I am absolutely proud of it, and what brought this creative drive in me were the precious Harry Potter books.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a luminous display of the director's personal vision to show how integral books are in developing a person's life. Our protagonist, Mr. Morris Lessmore is a bibliophile who enjoys writing in his diary while sitting cozily in the balcony with just books surrounding him. Suddenly, a mighty hurricane wrecks the entire town and all the material possessions of Mr. Morris and the other citizens are destroyed. What our leading man has is just the diary in his hand but the words have been rubbed out. In this dark period, Morris wanders miserably till he is captivated by a beautiful lady who is soaring high in the air with flapping books around her. Her dress has words written all over it and she looks exultant. A Humpty Dumpty book leads Mr. Morris to a huge library filled with books, and not plain books, but living and breathing ones. Mr. Morris, who has lost nearly everything in the hurricane, now devotes all his time to books. In this process, not only is he able to bring back happiness and a true sense of satisfaction in his life, but he also starts penning a novel and pledges to help the lives of other unfortunate souls by lending them books.
What makes Fantastic Flying Books such a joyous watch is the beautiful manner in which director William Joyce brings books to life. The entire story itself feels like a tale said by a mother to her young child at night the opening scene takes us into a book with the film's title. The contrast before and after the natural calamity is shown colors while the initial scene is in color, the latter moment is shown in black and white. Also, colors begin reentering Mr. Morris' life only with the arrival of the books; his life comes alive after this. An ironic thing to be noted is that the same books that infuse life in its readers are typed in black and white.
Even with the advancing technology and changing cultures, our books are trying hard to stay relevant. We have book readers, IPads and software to read online. Also, many classics like Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, Gone with the Wind etc are getting a makeover with bolder covers to appeal to this generation. I say it's a good thing but it is only in our hands to include or reject books from our lives. But everyone should give this short film a chance its beautiful, poignant and thought provoking.
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