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Wednesday, 4 February 2009

József Nepp "Tale About the Beetle"








Primarily a writer of screenplays though he has worked on backgrounds and layouts, Hungarian animator József Nepp made Tale About the Beetle in 1963 Simply drawn with smooth animation, the seven minute cartoon follows a rather odd character through his day, waking up, suffering an insect attack whilst in control of a motor vehicle, correcting the incorrect at his place of work and nearly meeting the mother of his future children. The visual gags accumulate readily enough though it is the inventiveness of the animator that really distinguishes the short - the view from the windscreen as the car careers out of control, the encircling of the fingers as our intrepid quality controller spots the product that has gone awry, reading a paper as the music reinforces the content. Hungarian animation was deemed very strong in the 1950s with Pannonia Film Studio in Budapest producing work of quality. Odd then that the country is not now viewed in quite the same light as, say, Russia or the Czech Republic for its animation work, the exception proving the rule with Ferenc Rofusz's 1981 short, The Fly, winning the Academy Award for Animated Short Film, the first Hungarian film of any type to win an Oscar. Unlike some ex-Soviet Bloc countries, the country did not have quite the same state sponsored media machine creating its own animated material. Pannonia lives on however, its latest movie being Marcell Jankovics' The Tragedy of Man. Back to József. A major figure in Hungarian animation in the 1960s and 1970s known for his Gustavus series, Mézga Family and Next, Please! he remains influential. Latterly he has been involved in a new sequel to the hit film of 1986, Cat City. Like its predecessor, Cat City 2: The Cat of Satan is regarded as something of a cult movie. Not to forget Tale About the Beetle that is such an original gem I'm glad to have discovered in the highways and byways that make YouTube such an interesting resource. In the next day or so I'll consider some of the Gustav movies, showcasing some gems of Hungarian animation.

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