The Hole (1962)
USA, 15 min
Directed by: John Hubley
Written by: John Hubley, Faith Hubley
Starring: Dizzy Gillespie (voice), George Mathews (voice)
I've really grown to like the films of John and Faith Hubley, and something about their style always struck me as familiar, but I could never quite put my finger on it. Then I saw the introductory title "an observation by John and Faith Hubley," and it came to me – this film is a precursor to "Seinfeld!" Don't lambast me just yet, I'll explain. Anybody who has seen the series' DVD releases would undoubtedly be familiar with the bonus Seinimations, directed by Eric Yahnker, which presented crude animations that synchronised with the many bizarre conversations of Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer. These snippets are worthwhile, not for their visuals, but for the vocal interplay between the contributing characters, and the essence of this idea was already entrenched in the films of the Hubleys, who typically constructed visuals around a spontaneous, free-flowing conversation between two people. The Hole (1962), John Hubley's second Oscar-winning short, tackles, among other things, the nature of accidents, and whether the notion applies to nuclear war.
Two construction workers (voiced by Dizzy Gillepsie and George Matthews) are engaged in conversation as they work. The pair's interaction, as was the Hubleys' style, doesn't feel scripted in the least, following a natural pathway that begins with discussion of everyday issues and ends with the reality of nuclear war. Citizens in the early 1960s were, of course, faced with the height of the Cold War, and this is very much reflected in the cinema of the day. The characters in The Hole reflect upon the possibility of nuclear war being caused by a technical glitch – a scenario terrifyingly brought to life in Sidney Lumet's Fail-Safe (1964) – but one contends that even this can't be considered a passive, blameless "accident," as it is we who knowingly possess such a dangerous weapon with willingness to use it. Though the film's animation is not particularly handsome, lacking the bright, fresh colours of Windy Day (1968), the conversation is most definitely worth hearing, and the ideas raised deserve more than a few seconds' contemplation.
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