Friday, 5 June 2009

Tim Webb "A is for Autism" (1992)

I spent Thursday with Peter Lang who is to be our Animator in Residence. Discussing possible subjects for the students involved he mentioned a Channel 4 production way back in 1992. Directed by Tim Webb, A is for Autism takes a warm look at the world of autistic youngsters and adults, using their drawings, live footage and commentary in a fashion that enthralls as well as educates. Autism is a secret world and this is as revealing as anything I have seen on the subject. It is also an object lesson in how animation can be used in a documentary. Don't think the movie is simply worthy. Marvel at the startlingly good manipulation and presentation of material, as drawings come alive. And the contributors are nothing if not authoritative on their own subject. Peter was particularly impressed by trains one of the young boys drew, his ability to view the train from different angles as well as the detail. An animator in other words. The train sequences as they weave along the tracks are rivetting: "I like trains because they are interesting ... the 37 is the best of my animation sequences, the 47 is my second best ... I've done a road scene as well but eventually this leads nowhere." Tim Webb directs with aplomb, the editing of film quite inspired at times, never less than upbeat in message. One of the narrators, Temple Grandin, coached Dustin Hoffman for his role in Rain Man. Indeed I was so impressed by the film that I have just bought it for my school - here. One of the trains was drawn at Worksop, near where I live. Two days ago at my local shopping area an autistic boy of 18 was assaulted by three teenagers, now charged with manslaughter. He looks a perfectly normal teenager in his photographs though rarely ventured out without his parents. This last time he did. The kid sketching the train pictures will be in his late twenties now. I hope he is still drawing so beautifully.


Angeline said...

It is good to know that children living with autism are able to showcase their talents and gifts through drawings. They can actually act normal only if they are in the right mood. I hope that this syndrome will be treated sooner. For now, parents should manage the symptoms of autism accordingly.

Ian Lumsden said...

Absolutely right, Angeline. I taught some very bright children with autism.