Wednesday 29 April 2009

The Real Place

With a few screeners in hand, I'll be trying to get in some early reviews of films playing at this year's Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto (April 30 - May 10).

I love the NFB.

Oh sure, I don't pay it enough attention, forget its birthday and kinda take it for granted, but by now I think it pretty much expects that of me. Just like it expects that of most other Canadians. When I really look at what it does though - things like the stunning "Madame Tutli-Putli" (Part 1 and Part 2), those great animated classics like "The Cat Came Back" and "The Sweater", the old vignette TV commercials that taught us (whether we liked it or not) little bits about our own Canadian history, funding for important documentary work, etc. - I want to bring it a huge bouquet of flowers and apologize for my neglect.

Where else can you find a film like "The Real Place"? Meant solely as a 5 minute recognition of an artist (playwright and librettist John Murrell) on the occasion of receiving the Governor General's 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award in Performing Arts, it becomes an animated summation of an artist's thoughts, history, motivation and work. And a true piece of art of its own.

"In opera and in Shakespeare, in locations that were both natural and supernatural, I escaped the limitations of my life," Murrell says. Animator Cam Christiansen uses collage and a vast palette of colours to give us an idea of what Murrell sees in his own mind, how he would play with his friends (Whitman, Melville, Wagner) and why he feels he has "lived the luckiest life".

In all honesty, I'm not sure I would've come across John Murrell's work in any other context but this one and even if I did, I'm not sure I would've really paid a great deal of attention to it. I love the creativity on display here though and the attempt to show why this artist is lauded and how he came to be who he is.

An artful piece about an artist who makes art about art. All in 5 minutes.

I love the NFB.

1 comment:

James McNally said...

Lovely review, Bob. I saw this, too, but feel completely inarticulate when it comes to reviewing shorts. I agree with everything you've said here!