Saturday, 24 November 2007
Florence Miailhe "Les Oiseaux Blancs Les Oiseaux Noirs"
Florence Miailhe is one of France's most innovative and skilled animators. Her 2002 parable of good and evil, Les Oiseaux Blancs Les Oiseaux Noirs, is a beautiful example of her work. Translated as The White Birds, Black Birds it is narrated without subtitles. We are introduced to the two birds almost effortlessly as images merge together, break apart and metamorphose into different shapes or people. We are always conscious of the contrasting colours, as well as the over-riding talent of the artist and designer. At one point as birds break away into a flock it is a genuine moment of sheer beauty. The movie is a visual treat that transcends problems with language; in any case, my schoolboy French could more or less follow the commentary. The story is based on a book by Amadou Hampaté Bâ about the work of Tierno Bokar and his African fable of good and evil. The black birds represent bad thoughts and words, white birds the opposite. It explores how people live with good or bad feelings and how it is better to have good feelings towards others. Florence uses a mixture of paint and sand on glass, illuminated from above and below. This accounts for the fluid movement of frames. The opening credits are clearly drawn in sand, something I understand Tierno Bokar would do to illustrate his teaching. Florence was born in Paris in 1956. A graduate of the Ensad in 1980 with a degree in engraving, she has taught animation there and at the world renowned Gobelins. In addition to her work as a painter, she is employed as an illustrator and designer for the press. I have been unable to discover a UK company for the DVD though you could try the producers, Les Films du Village.