Frank & Caroline Mouris’ film analysis
When people look at Frank and Caroline’s stop motion films by the first time, most of them are confuse by them. Their films are full of information, and usually can not figure it out by the first view. However, the truth will show when viewers take their time and watch those films over and over again.
Take a look at Frank and Caroline’s most famous film: Frank Film (1973). A stop motion film telling the life story of Frank itself. The interesting part in this film is this simple and lively movie has two back soundtrack: one is the story of a English autobiography, another one is a series reading of the “f” words. Movie try to dub fusion of these two background soundtrack together, and eventually choose to show two different picture from the magazine and combine them together, making mutual connection between the various topics.
Further more on Frank film, this film won the 1974 academy award for the best short subject, animated films. The award proofed the Frank’s success. In many people’s opinion, the animation information was overload, it changes too fast, and the double background soundtrack of monologue, it was hard to understand by whoever first time viewers. The movie is a autobiography, tells the protagonist’s life experience. The film have every small event happened in the main character’s life. Small to everyday’s food, beverages, furniture, vehicles; normal to animals, people, art, education, vocational, social, money; large to religion, time, the Earth, the universe, life; all the subject above have emerged in the film. The double sound track is to use two different angles for narrative: one is the “F” word superposition, the other is a narrative of his own life experiences. Throughout the film, viewers can heard out of the main character’s school life, grew up wondering what to do for the future and thinking, later become interested in art and films. Narrative and animation are closely linked, what topic the narrative is talking about, is what subject the animation appears. For example, when the narrative is talking about Jesus Christ, the Church, the Christ statue and many related subject appears in the animation. The reason why the animator choose this way in the animation, like sofa, bed, refrigerator, people, food, drinks and subjects are in various image appears, although they are little difference between them, is that when people think of one thing, usually the image of that thing will appears in their mind. Therefore the the strongest part in this animation is that, the film is showing exactly the same image when people trying to recall in their brains, through the film people can intuitive see through the main character’s lifetime and what the character’s movement in his mind.
Life in all things, as the story tells another.
Massive of material in clip-art, they arrange, rotate, overlay, replace, zoom in and out. The animator uses stop-motion technique, to make the information emerging and disappearing on the screen rapidly. The double background track mumbling and muttering bring even more chaos to the “messy” film. However the patience audience will still be able to find some clues in the gaps and flashing, then Intuitively understand the massive information that the movie has brought to us like a spring waterfall.
Take a look at Frank & Caroline Mouris’ second film, Frankly Caroline (1998). Exact same style and technique, as Frank film. Instead, this film is talking about Frank’s wife, Caroline Mouris; and no double background soundtrack. This time, the film is shorter and less story to tell, the animation is also slower so the viewer can see more on the screen. In comparison between Frank’s film and Frankly Caroline, Frank’s film uses flash image to produce massive information (about 1 picture per frame). Frankly Caroline uses panning as the transition of pictures; this way even at the same speed, viewer can still see the image clearly on the screen rather then a rapid flash. Although the amount of information stays the same. In the soundtrack, both male and female are talking this time. Further more, they are more likely to talk to each other, some line are become comedy from what the female talk to the male character. By the way they talking to each other, it creates an atmosphere of a family, viewers can feel the warm from the talking. Instead of only one person is talking in the film, two person talking to each other has bring the film to life. Viewers will have the feeling like they are sitting in the house, listening to the chitchat between husband and wife.
The third film is an abstraction film, Impasse (1978). This is a abstraction film therefore there are thousands of meaning by how viewers see it. An arrow, some stars, and color is the only few material in the film. In the star part, the use of scale change and fast movement makes the movie visually enriched and intense. Also the way stars fade creates depth in the film. Even this is a abstraction film, people can still see the shadow from Frank Film, and Frankly Caroline, the huge amount of information shows in every Frank & Caroline Mouris’ film.
But what does that massive information do? People won’t understand in 20th century. People receiving massive amount of information every day through cellphone and computer. In 1970s, people don’t have this technology to access that much amount of information; the only way they can get information was by tv and newspaper. Today people are getting used information explosion because they can access information whenever they want; in comparison to 1970s people, the amount of information from this film like a lightning struck through viewer’s brain.