Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride

I’m not proud to admit this but I’m really not all that enamored of animation. This is an inconsequential admission until the realization sets in that I’m currently trying to finish an animated short. It’s not just the process—let’s be honest—complaining that animation is time-consuming is like complaining that water is wet. I think it’s because what’s often presented as the best in animated entertainment is often contrived, ostentatious and lacking content. I know these are “drawings” but I feel like I’m being lied to. This may be an un-American sentiment, but I don’t like feeling like I’m being lied to. I was reminded of this discomfort recently while re-watching the Hunter S. Thompson/Alex Cox confrontation over how to properly adapt the “wave” soliloquy from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for the screen. As much of an Alex Cox supporter as I’ve always been (although this thing has me seriously reevaluating my loyalty) I agreed wholeheartedly with HST’s increasingly rabid protestations. That passage is the centerpiece of one of the twentieth century’s greatest pieces of literature and it required the kind of care that very few filmmakers, let alone animators, can muster. As brilliantly as Ralph Steadman’s illustrations managed to crystallize HST’s manic prose, they work because of the words, not in place of them. And, for the record, I was largely unimpressed with what Terry Gilliam managed to create, “wave” speech included. I don’t know, I have a festering suspicion that maybe some words are just untranslatable… probably not the best mindset to carry forward while I myself am trying to adapt a short story into an animated film. Oh well, setting up self-sabotaging roadblocks is what I do best.

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