Thursday, January 29, 2009

Animation: Windy Day (1968, John & Faith Hubley)

Windy Day (1968)
USA, 8 min
Directed by: John Hubley, Faith Hubley
Starring: Emily Hubley (voice), Georgia Hubley (voice)

John and Faith Hubley shared a fruitful career in the field of animation, and were awarded three Oscars for Moonbird (1959), The Hole (1962) and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Double Feature (1966), respectively, as well as four further nominations. Windy Day (1968) was produced in a similar manner to many of their cartoons – the animation was built around the pre-recorded conversation of two people. In this case, it is the directors' young children, Emily and Georgia Hubley, who carry on a free-wheeling exchange of dialogue that feels natural and spontaneous. One daughter wants to act out a medieval fairy-tale, but the other is hesitant, and the conversation switches topics frequently and haphazardly, even touching on the mature concepts of love, marriage, dreams, life and death. The two girls speak of such ideas with enthusiasm and naive innocence, but their conclusions are surprisingly insightful, and the animation almost struggles to keep up with their rapidly-switching topics of discussion.

Animation has always been the ideal medium for converting into visuals the free-association of human thoughts and interaction. Ideas and subject matter spontaneously change and switch back again, and the mind repeatedly conjures up fantastic flights of imagination and association. Like leaves on a breeze, thoughts and dreams materialise seemingly out of thin air, carving out random and erratic paths. Caroline and Frank Mouris' Frank Film (1973) employed a similar idea, instead animating with collages of magazine photographs. More recently, John Raskin's I Met the Walrus (2007) ascribed visual illustrations to an archival interview with the late John Lennon. The Hubleys' Windy Day takes together the dreams and aspirations of their two young daughters and converts them into a visual fairy-tale, a vivid meditation on the nature of life and innocence. At the 1969 Academy Awards, John and Faith Hubley lost out to the similarly-titled Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968), which was awarded posthumously to Walt Disney.

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