Review: Tezuka: The Experimental Films (2007)

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Rare indeed as most of these short films were destined for film festivals. Having had the pleasure and luck to have seen a handful at the Hong Kong International Film Festival a few years back, I longed to see them again. Now my wait is over as a selective 13 of these experimental films have been put together in this DVD with some choice extras.

Tezuka’s legacy in modern animation is staggering, having left behind a large body of work and an indelible influence on future animators. These 13 short films demonstrate not just his love for his craft, but his passion and philosophy about life. These works go as far back as 1962 and the range of different visual styles and animation approaches is just jaw-dropping. From the pop-art look of “Pictures at an Exhibition” to the hand-drawn manga style of “Murumasa”, it’s hard to believe that these works came from the same man.

The films are more than just a collection of visual eye-candy styles though as Tezuka cranks up the experimental quotient with different content and narratives.There are obvious influences from cinema such as “Broken Down Film”, a funny,post-modern (and at times satirical) homage to silent Westerns. “Push” enters the realm of sci-fi whilst the astonishing “Jumping” challenged every envelope with its one-cut (of almost 4000 drawings!) POV of a girl jumping.

Perhaps another alluring and surprising aspect of this selection of films, at least for me, has been Tezuka’s views on the world through his animation – his commentary on humanity, the environment and society are executed with humour and sometimes harsh reflection. This is an obvious legacy that is also championed by Hayao Miyazaki. If your only acquaintance with Tezuka’s work has been through his TV animation, I strongly urge you to get your hands on this disc!

9 roving insects out of 10.
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