Review of the Childhood of a Circle

http://www.shortoftheweek.com/2012/03/24/childhood-of-a-circle/

This short by french animator Kadavre Exquis is a lovely little piece. It tells the tale of a lonely creature named Archibald who somewhat resembles the image of a polar bear. Archibald lives in harmony with nature, until one day a circle flies from the sky and crashes into a mountain near Archibald. Archibald follows the circle out of the forest to the end of the world, where he suddenly loses his form and also becomes a circle. After a confusing interlude of falling, Archibald resumes his previous form, though he is now not alone, a red creature, which was previously the circle and now resembles him. The film ends with the two creatures walking back to the forest, apparently in love. This film is animated somewhat like a storybook, which I enjoyed. The film is narrated by an elderly british man whose voice sounds like it should have been on the radio in the 1940s. The film only lacked in the depth of plot. While I was totally on board in the beginning, with the creature named Archibald who frolicked with jumping mushrooms, the film lost me in the middle with the transformation of the circle into another creature. The end was just very odd. It seems a bit as though the filmmaker spent all this time animating the beginning, but then had to cut down the story in order to meet some sort of deadline. Though I liked the film, I just wish the story was a bit deeper.

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Effects of Film

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Film has become one of the most powerful mediums for expressing opinion. The films Mickey Mouse Monopoly, Idiocracy, and Killing Us Softly, each express a specific view about society. While they may be a tad biased, as many documentaries are, they each present rather specific issues, which are prevalent in today’s media.

Mickey Mouse Monopoly discusses the hold that the Disney Cooperation holds over the minds of the children of this generation. Since I have grown up in the ‘age of Disney’, I was interested to se how Disney has supposedly been molding my mind over the years. The film mostly described the way in which Disney manipulated the mind of young girls. Seeing as I was, and still mostly am, a young girl, I was rather interested. The documentary essentially stated that that Disney perpetuated the idea that young girls must have perfect bodies like all the princesses and use their sexuality to get what they want (as seen with princess jasmine in Aladdin).

I honestly believe that young girl’s body image should be protected, but I think this may go a bit far. . I asked one of friends if she was affected by the animated body figures of Disney princess. “Well, yeah” she said “Not so much when I was a kid, but when I was in middle school, I had this Disney Princess lunchbox, and when I ate lunch I sort of felt like they were judging me with their pretty blue eyes as I ate my wheat-free brownies” (Interview, Cayce Savage). Most of this was probably subconscious, but my cynicism had been undermined. While this documentary likely over-dramaticizes the situation a bit, girls are still subconsciously branded with the idea of that you must be thin in order to get anything in life. I decided to re-watch Beauty and the Beast and I actually started to notice what the rather large women in the documentary were saying. Belle is completely helpless, and is supposed to still love the beast, even though he yells at her and physically abuses her. At one point, the beast screams, “well, if you don’t eat with me, than you can just STARVE.” (Beauty and the Beast) That doesn’t seem like a very friendly way to pursue a romantic relationship if you ask me.

Idiocracy attempts to construct a picture of what the world will be like if we continue in our hyper-consumerist ways. According to the Media Awareness Network, we are exposed to 3,000 advertisements per day (www.media-awareness.ca). Upon viewing this movie, my cynical mind once again claimed, “no, that’s ridiculous.” However, while again, this film may be over-dramatic, it makes some excellent points. The major theme of this film is that if we continue to make technology that ‘makes our lives easier’ our intelligence will decrease over the decades, due to the fact that as things become ‘easier’, involve less intelligence. This is probably the film that affected me the most, purely because it holds my interest. I worry vastly about the decrease in library and the stupidity of modern day entertainment. When I hear of shows like “parking lot cops”, I worry for our future. While some advertising is witty and clever (like Macintosh) most has been streamlined for the mass public by making it as simple as possible to understand.  All I have to say is that I certainly hope that libraries stay open, or we are most certainly doomed.

Killing Us Softly is probably the most pertinent to me, considering is discusses both my age group and my gender. It discusses the portrayal of women in advertising. I knew this was an epidemic in American advertising. Once I became acquainted with Photoshop, I learned just how easy it was to airbrush. The woman in the documentary pointed out that it is not just thinness that is prevalent but also the idea of subservience, and provocation of violence towards women.  I decided to check it out for myself, so I went to my local CVS and purchased the newest issue of Vogue magazine for the month of April. On the cover was the singer Rhianna wearing a mostly translucent dress. (Vogue Issue April 2011) In my opinion, this is almost a sort of propaganda. Girls see this magazine, where Rhianna looks freakishly thin, with her billowing fire engine red hair and think “if I jus follow the guidelines and tips in this magazine, I’ll look just like that.” I won’t lie, when I was in middle school, I was a tragic individual – with my poofy hair and ill-fitting clothes, I was a charmer. When the boy that I liked (his name was Andrew) didn’t ask me to the 8th grade dance, with my head down, I walked into the local pharmacy and purchased a teen vogue, which had plastered on the cover “get great hair to make him notice”. It’s safe to say, that this was unsuccessful, but as I looked through the pages I felt rather inadequate. Yes, I know it sounds like one of those tragic “when I was in middle school I had a terrible body image” stories, but it is sadly true. The documentary presents several examples of advertising from the 60s, and certainly, things have improved since then, but they aren’t much better. Sure, we are no longer told that ‘this butter pan will help you make the perfect bacon while you are in the kitchen making dinner and reading simultaneously, and are now informed that certain makeup products will make our faces ‘flawless’. This flawlessness is based upon airbrushed models that have no pores. Needless to say, this documentary is full of truth, and not even my cynical mind could disagree.

All three of these films are poignant in today’s society, and all three give me hope. At least if our consumerist society continues in this way, we shall have films to document our downfall. I honestly believe the world of communication is entering a rather interesting age because we must find a safe balance between intelligence and the ease of technology and information flow; I just certainly hope we are successful.

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