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Friday, 2 April 2010

Jonathan Hodgson & Susan Young "Doomsday Clock" (1987)


If Doomsday Clock were made today it would undoubtedly have images of belching power stations, cars, melting icebergs and arid deserts alongside the ticking clock signalling Armageddon. However the film was made in 1987 and the subject matter was what obsessed us all at that time, the arms race and threat of nuclear annihilation. It was made by Jonathan Hodgson and Susan Young, Jonathan’s first commission from the United Nations after leaving the Royal College of Art. The link is to a near five minute segment of 9 minute piece, though in truth it seems complete. At first one admires the labours of the workers, harvesting great fields, deep at the coal face. Follow the products of the production line and one discovers missiles emerging from the great melting pot. Politicians meet whilst children play and adults are oblivious of the dangers. By the side of each politician, growing more beastly by the minute, is a red button, to the side a ticking clock. Much of the film, say where the workers are pouring metal into a mould or scything the vast fields of wheat, has stylistic echoes of the great soviet animators, the men with huge bodies and tiny heads, the scenes of industry, the blue tint to the action. A belting percussion soundtrack and mounting tension in a film that is dated in content perhaps, but fresh in its depiction. (North Korea, Iran .... maybe not.) Jonathan is one of the best known animators in the UK, founder of Bermuda Shorts and Sherbet, lecturing at a host of UK universities; Susan still works for Sherbet and has a long line of films and commercials to her credit, at least one of which I intend to write about shortly. Interestingly I have recently featured three of the earliest graduates (MA) in animation from the RCA, Susan graduating in 1984, Jonathan a year later and Emma Calder a year after that in 1986. The college's alumni read like the UK’s Who’s Who of animation.

4 comments:

Alexander S. said...

// Much of the film, say where the workers are pouring metal into a mould or scything the vast fields of wheat, has stylistic echoes of the great soviet animators, the men with huge bodies and tiny heads, the scenes of industry, the blue tint to the action. //

the stylistic echoes of the great soviet animators? the scenes of industry?

honestly, I cannot remember such Soviet animation films.

Men with huge bodies and tiny heads?
I don't remember...

Maybe, with huge head and tiny body? So it is Cheburaska with big ears ;))

Alexander S.

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Ian Lumsden said...

Hi Alexander,
You are right but I was referring to the posters of the Russian empire, three year plans, soviet labourers honestly toiling, vast output of steel. I have a collection of them. Once upon a time they decorated my study, urging me to work harder, inspiring me. I'm away on break at the moment. I will look into the small heads and massive bodies when I return. . You've bailed me out with Cheburashka. An idea for a post too.

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