Friday, 25 September 2009

Frédéric Back "Tout-Rien" (All Nothing 1980)

Frédéric Back is one of the greats of the animation world. Two Academy Awards for Crac (1981) and L'Homme qui plantait des arbres (1987) together with nominations for Le fleuve aux grandes eaux (1994) and today's feature, the earlier Tout-Rien, testify to his talent. Tout-Rien (All Nothing) has been overshadowed by the later successful movies. Today's review is an attempt to redress the balance. A kindly deity creates the world, populating a paradise with creatures, introducing man and woman who are at first perfectly blended into that world before perfection is bespoiled by man's greed and anger as they turn against their Creator. There is a redemption at the close as Back envisages a more benevolent society. The creation and prelapsarian period is covered with sumptuous ease, the creatures exquisitely drawn and designed, like some priceless hand-painted wallpaper of old. The animation glides along with sinuous ease even as playfulness and humour is replaced by a savagery after the Fall. An escalating series of vignettes confirms man's destructive nature, whether it be in clubbing newborn seal cubs to death or leveling the forests to produce a torrent of consumer goods. The film masterfully presents Back's qualities, from the love of nature that permeates all his work, delicate coloured pencil on frosted cels and seamless animation. It is about that time of the year when I drop hints to the family about Christmas presents so if they loved me they would buy Les classiques de Frédéric Back - 4 DVD.

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