Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Animation: Voyage to Next (1974, John Hubley)

Voyage to Next (1974)
USA, 10 mins
Directed by: John Hubley
Starring: Dizzy Gillespie (voice), Maureen Stapleton (voice)

Voyage into Next (1974) is a quaint little anti-war statement, the sort of laid-back, hippie-inspired short film that one would expect the 1970s to have produced. But it was also directed by John and Faith Hubley, a husband-and-wife animating team whose work is more subtle and understated than most. Many of the pair's films were produced by animating unrehearsed conversations (usually) between two people, and I had previously enjoyed their Windy Day (1968), which excellently utilised this free-wheeling technique. Voyage into Next was obviously more tightly-scripted, and that the film was to be an anti-war cartoon restricted the voice actors (namely Maureen Stapleton and Dizzy Gillespie) in which conversational paths they could take. Stapleton and Gillespie play Mother Earth and Father Time, respectively, as they observe the destructive conflicts waged between the human nations (represented here as floating boxes) and ponder why our species so unthinkably forgot the virtues of sharing that allowed our ancestors to progress beyond the Stone Age.

There's nothing particularly impressive about the Hubleys' style of animation – minimalist line-drawn human figures highlighted with soft shades of colour – but their style is distinctive, later influencing short films such as the Oscar-winning Leisure (1976). The two well-known voice actors are perfectly chosen (Dizzy Gillespie has one of the coolest-sounding voices ever), and the jazz musician's music is employed successfully to create the film's lighthearted mood, despite the grimness of the subject matter. Mother Earth and Father Time oversee their lilliputian creations, hidden amid mini puffs of artillery smoke, and contemplate their inability to alter human history. The future, it seems, is not in the hands of the gods, but in our own. Of course we have the ability to achieve peace and mutual understanding once more… but will we attain it in time? Voyage into Next was nominated for an Academy Award in 1975, but lost out to the inferior claymation Closed Mondays (1974).

1 comment:

  1. I just finished watching this short. I also watched Windy Day over the weekend and really enjoyed it. This film taught me one thing, were going to need a bigger box!


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