Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Emma Calder "Madame Potatoe" (1983)

I first saw Emma Calder’s Madame Potatoe on Channel 4 in the early 1990s although her MA film was made some ten years earlier in 1983 at the Royal College of Art. Animation is the art of the innovative. Commencing with a stop motion sequence in which a potato is cut in two, the half tuber becomes a home for a potato print baby who rapidly develops into the Madame Potatoe of the title, a girl who consumes quite a mountain of crisps. Blown up by all that fat enriched starch she launches herself on the world, to be molested by a man with an interesting prosthesis before succumbing, for a while, to the blandishments of a celebrity and media driven world that has aged surprisingly little in the near thirty years since this endearing film was made. The film is full of fun as well as insight, as is the music by Ged Haney – a fellow Cumbrian I discover – whose infectious score moves the six minute piece along at a great rate of knots. The pencil sketches, bright prints of the girl (I like her punk phase) and general explorative nature of both animation and theme are a delight. It’s a little cheeky at times with prosthesis and x-rated television channel, always inventive, pacy, with the star a bright eyed girl whose advance from couch potato status is something of retreat in the end. Emma is very much a star in her own right, developing a parallel career (to that of animator) as an often published children's writer and artist.

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