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Feet Of Song (1988 / UK / Erica Russell)

PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 4:11 pm
by A
This is an animated short with a length of about 5 min, but one of those rare occasions, when it's a worthy effort of its own, using its format as an advantage , rather than being just a show-off for a director who actually wants to make a full-length feature. Seems to be more often the case with animated films, probably because they require more time.

Somewhat experimental, it consists of several human figures dancing around to african music, choreographed in an astonishing way. The figures imitate human movement very well, though they are constantly changing their form. They melt with each other and dissolve, a becoming and dying of different forms and shapes, drawn in a bright color palette, that mostly emphasizes red, orange and yellow. The musical accompaniment, isn't just that, but an essential part of the filmic composition. The figures really interact with the music, and sometimes I felt like I was in a stream of colors and rhythms, both bringing forth new expressions, so you don't know if the colors are creating the rhythms, or the movement came first and everything evolved out of it. Out of this, a filmic concept is created that seems to defy the laws of time and space, the body becoming one with both. As the director stated: "The most exciting thing about animation is its unique ability to free human movement from the physical body", and "Feet of Song" is Russell's successfull translation of this thought onto film.
The film was for me reminiscent of Walter Ruttmann's early animation experiments with color and sound from the 20's (Opus I, II, II), though it added something different to it. Opposed to Ruttmann's static camera, here the frame itself pulsated as the camera seems to zoom in and out on thedancing figures and shapes, creating the effect of everything in motion. So the viewer isn't just a spectator to it, but seems to be involved himself, riding on a wave that rises in and out of the melodical sea.

Here's a filmmaker in control of her means, with her own unique vision, Erica Russell was born in South Africa, and that's probably where the inspiration for the music and the movements comes from. Her later Film "Triangle" (1994) that seems concerned with a similar topic was nominated for an Oscar, though I haven't seen it, yet.
I watched "Feet of Song" on Connoisseur Video's release of "Wayward Girls & Wicked Women", a compilation of animated shorts by women directors.