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Sunday, 8 July 2007

Bruno Bozzetto "Grasshoppers"

Bruno Bozzetto's Oscar nominated classic of 1990 “Grasshoppers" is chosen to represent the Italian director's mass of work over his fifty years or so in the animation business. “Grasshoppers” is the story of the history of the world told in 8½ minutes. Each moment in time is a visual gag always ending in a fight, death and carnage. In fact it is very violent though only with the same degree of seriousness as Tom and Jerry. The transitions between the various empires are marked by grass that grows to obscure the debris of the previous altercation. The title’s significance can be seen: man is a hopping insect squabbling and fighting over the earth and then obscured before the next generation appears on the scene. Two Greeks argue over Helen, kill each other and in turn are killed; the Romans loot huge vats of gold then fight against the barbarians only pausing a moment to glance at the holy cross that suddenly appears over them before continuing. Italian aristocrats dispute who should wear the crown, soldiers switch allegiances, a woman takes charge, vanquished aristocrat metamorphoses into the Pope who declares the woman is the devil who metamorphoses into Joan of Arc. It’s all done so slickly and with wit. What Bruno selects from world history is interesting. I think I saw Britain represented at Waterloo, there’s General Custer, the Great Wall of China and much else.

Bruno did not work alone. It is Riccardo Dentin who does the animation and the music by Roberto Frattini does much to establish period atmosphere as well as cement the humour. The artwork is essentially caricatures and you can enjoy images of stabbing, climbing and burning or the detail that goes into his characters by examining his storyboard.

Any trawl of Google will lead to a YouTube copy of the movie albeit of varying quality. Compilation DVDs of his work are freely available though are not family orientated despite some of the advertising. They do however include "Allegro Non Troppo" his 1976 parody of "Fantasia". You can also see his work via his website: http://www.bozzetto.com.

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