Friday, 25 July 2008

John and Faith Hubley "The Tender Game"

The Tender Game is a love story set in a park where the attendant is distracted from raking leaves by a young woman. In a golden, translucent hue of autumn and delicately drawn park landscape, the pair meet, embrace, are separated and reunite in a simply blissful film. The shapes of the man and woman are mostly abstract though they change: one moment simple flourishes of the brush, or an almost ghost-like shape gliding through the park as the "camera" pans around, the next rather in more detailed form, though never realistic. As the pair become more confident of each other their forms become more fleshed out though they end in an impressionistic swirl. The animation too is distinctive, not Disney but with smooth movement of frames and little flourishes like the guy cavorting with his rake or the girl distributing her flowers. In fact the film takes time to settle to the storyline as we luxuriate in the glow of an autumn day. The romance is never lush. Humour plays its part, particularly in the couple's courtship. Half a century on and time judges John and Faith Hubley as two of the most important animators of the 20th century. The Tender Game will be enjoyed by all fans of animation - and jazz also, as Ella Fitzgerald's lush rendition of the Jack Lawrence and Walter Gross classic ballad "Tenderly" is used as the soundtrack, the singer being accompanied by the Oscar Peterson Trio. I had it in mind some time ago to do a sequence of reviews on the Hubleys but sort of got side-tracked. So, fifty years and so modern in character, even the music is in vogue. Today's movie is not some right of passage for budding animators needing to get immersed in the classics: it is a genuinely lovable movie; I can't think of one that wears it years so well. For an intelligent and informative biography of John Hubley that is so good it's almost akin to buying the book click the preceding link.

1 comment:

Rafi animates said...

wonderful review there. I love the film, thanks very much for sharing. did you ever do that series of reviews? I really dig the films from the Hubleys.