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Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Alison de Vere "Café Bar" (Four Women, Four Decades - 1970s)
















The first of four posts this week featuring a quartet of truly remarkable artists, animators and women, each movie from a different decade. Café Bar is an imaginative, witty short by the late Alison de Vere, whose work should be celebrated more. Waiting in a café a young woman watches as her date takes off his coat, false beard and glasses before joining her at the table. She quickly paints a mask of herself, establishing a flattering, if false, identity. So the couple meet over coffee. The man orders with a flourish though the pair soon exhaust their repertoire of conversation and he settles to his newspaper. In escalating flights of fancy Alison has the man take off in his aeroplane, land on a volcanic island, confront prehistoric beasts and, a delicious moment, climb down an elegant lady’s head, skiing into his would-be partner’s latte. The woman in turn trudges a lonely furrow through quicksand before confronting her own demon, prior to her rescue by café partner on charging horseback. So the pair learn to accept life as we all know it, jettison unrealistic expectations and survive, somewhat chastened by the perils of the world outside the precincts of accordion player and place settings. The five minute short is artfully sketched in often vivid colours as appropriate to the real or fantastic worlds. The animation flows beautifully too. There is real humour in the situation as they feign extravagant identities and contexts before settling back to a less hectic, real lifestyle. There is always truth in the best comedy. I've left the date until now for there is nothing to date Café Bar. It was produced in 1975 and is as fresh as the froth in the cup. I have already written about Alison's Mr Pascal and can again recommend British Animation Classics Vol. 1 & British Animation Classics Vol. 2. Alison's movie is in Volume 2 of a magic DVD.

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