Saturday, 8 November 2008

Jerry van de Beek & Betsy de Fries "The Car and The Road: A Romance in Automation"

Imitation is the sincerest form of appreciation so when I get a mention in a blog I was and am so pleased to find - Betsy de Fries' A Cumulus - I have to reciprocate. Which is not what I had in mind when I commenced the opening sentence of today's blog intending to speak of imitation. The Car and The Road: A Romance in Automation must be viewed in conjunction with tomorrow's Sunday Classic. A sensible straight road is hopelessly in love with a car who is not enamoured of him. She wanted curves and down hills, not dignity and reliability. The straight road's attempt, via angles and bends, to undulate a little, as all fairy stories do, of course succeeds and he woos the fickle car to drive off into the sunset at the close. The allegiance to Chuck Jones and Norton Juster is absolute and in consequence the Lexus Car Corporation has a classy four minute ad with which to woo their customers. Parody mocks or satirises, whereas this is pastiche, very much in fond homage to The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, the original Oscar winning movie. Made over forty years ago, that hugely experimental cartoon has worn well indeed, as I hope I make clear tomorrow. The Car and The Road possesses an intelligent, witty script from directors Jerry van de Beek and Betsy de Fries (Little Fluffy Clouds) that transfers well to the world of automobiles, though the movie loses much of the mathematical wordplay of its predecessor, of necessity I guess, given the transfer from abstract geometrical shape to more tangible straight road. It gains something however. A debt to the new technology perhaps but the use of colour here is sumptuous: when the car floats in bubbles or journeys up the new moon, I feel a more romantic hand at the wheel and, dare I say it, I also prefer the modern narrator to that of a slightly po faced delivery by Robert Morley, if that epithet can be applied to a voice. A great concept, fabulously animated and my ad of the year to date.

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