Monday, 22 June 2009

Christopher Louie and Bill Barminski (Walter Robot) "Grapevine Fires" (Death Cab for Cutie 2009)

One of the few areas of employment for animators in a worldwide recession is the music video business. However, just about always time and budgets are constrained so quality can suffer. Today's animation is unusual in that it tells a story chronologically. Ben Gibbard, guitarist and vocalist for Death Cab for Cutie, wrote about his experiences of the 2007 Californian fire storms when lives were lost and property destroyed. Grapevine Fires is hand drawn, flat 2D and I guess reactions to the simplified style of it all may alienate some readers of the Animation Blog. Personally I like it, finding it highly suited to narrative mode as the fires develop and a young boy on his bike is directed by the family to discover the whereabouts of the young lovers, one of whom is lost to the inferno. The pace is compelling, an awakening sense of panic and helplessness, a storyline developed by the written snatches of dialogue and reference to wall mounted family photographs in a home threatened by the flames. I like the first hand perspective of it all, seen at ground level, often through the eyes of the young boy on his bike or seated in the family car or speeding towards the burning family home to retrieve a treasured possession. The piece was made by Christopher Louie and Bill Barminski, collectively Walter Robot. Their response to a first rate song is highly impressive.

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