Wednesday, April 27, 2011

100 Animated Feature Films

One of the curious things about this book by Andrew Osmond is the lack of an adjective in the title. It's not the "100 Best," or "100 Ground-breaking," or even "100 Favourite." The lack of an adjective is evident in the films selected. Osmond has decidedly mixed reactions to Happy Feet, yet it is included. The introduction states that, "the selection is shaped by [the author's] taste, as the entries make clear, but I hope it is not wholly capricious." Try as I might, I found it hard to discern a point of view in these entries. I value Osmond's inclusion of films from all parts of the world and look forward to seeing some of the films that I'm not familiar with, but this isn't so much a book as a collection of unrelated essays. The only thing that holds them together is that they add up to 100 and that they are all about animated features.

I don't insist on agreeing with an author's point of view, but I value the presence of one. Reading these essays, I occasionally picked up some new information, but whether I liked or disliked a film, there was little that challenged my opinion or made me reconsider a film.

Perhaps the format is to blame. One hundred is a nice, round number, but not necessarily a good choice for animated features. Twenty years ago, it would have been hard to assemble a book of 100 animated features and now, perhaps, it's hard to assemble a book of 100 good ones. In addition, as each essay is forced into a standard length of a page and a half, some films are shortchanged and others are given more attention than they deserve. I enjoyed Osmond's book on Spirited Away, but the short length of these pieces does not provide him with the same opportunities to discuss a film.

6 comments:

Erik Robinson said...

HAHA!! I thought the exact same thing when I saw the title! Who wants a book on '50 Boats' or '1,000 Toothpicks'? If it's not the best, ugliest, most world-weary, who cares? Good review, by the way.

Oswald Iten said...

Does Osmond by any chance mention any Chinese animated features? I'm currently researching Shanghai films like "Havoc in Heaven" and can't really find valuable background information in English.

Mark Mayerson said...

Hi Oswald. The only two features from China are Nezha Conquers the Dragon King (1979) and My Life as McDull (2001), the latter from Hong Kong.

andrew osmond said...

Re Oswald's question, there's some very good material on Chinese animation in the book 'Animation in Asia and the Pacific,' edited by John Lent. Also, there are pieces on Chinese animation in 'Schoolgirl Milky Crisis' (don't worry, it's a tongue-in=cheek title) by Jonathan Clements; and also in at least one issue of the journal Asian Cinema - vol 14, no.1, spring/summer 2003. You could ask about the latter at the journal's website: http://astro.temple.edu/~jlent/asiancinema/index.html

There's also material in the book 'Animation Art,' edited by Jerry Beck, and in 'Cartoons: One Hundred Years of Cinema Animation' by Giannalberto Bendazzi.

Oswald Iten said...

Wow, thanks a lot to both of you! This was more than I expected, looking forward to reading those books.

ilyanaomi said...

I have recently received this book via Amazon and I was really looking forward to Osmond's insight.
I was totally taken aback by some of the choices in the book, "Avatar" ... really!
But I like the idea that it is not the "best" list, it is just a list, and I found the information and writing style interesting.
I also want to point out my biggest problem with the book is that the stills/reproductions are for the most part awful. Only a small fraction of the pictures are of good quality, which reminds me of books on animation in the past like "Masters of Animation" by John Grant. Art books need to have quality reproductions in my opinion.