Sunday, June 7, 2009

EVOLUTION & BOLERO


Michael Sporn has been posting some generous screen grabs from Bruno Bozetto's 'Bolero' sequence in the feature film ALLEGRO NON TROPPO, a 1976 parody of Disney's FANTASIA.

'Bolero' not only spoofs Disney's 'Right of Spring' sequence, but it does so with great design, exquisite animation, brilliant layout and sardonic social commentary. In many ways it is the highlight of ALLEGRO and it remains one of the most masterful pieces of full animation ever done. I vividly recall Ward Kimball introducing it as his favorite piece of animation at an early 1990's visit to Disney Feature Animation in Glendale.

While I certainly concur with his high opinion of the film, I have to say that when I first saw 'Bolero' in around 1978, my mind flashed not to Disney's 'Right of Spring' but rather to a National Film Board of Canada short they used to screen in my high school (during the early 1970's). The short is called EVOLUTION and it has a kind of 'Zagreb-lite' look to it that is fairly typical of the time (in a kind of Sesame Street way) , but it is very well done at that and the overall art direction never slips into laziness the way some films done in similar styles could.

While not as elaborate as the big-budgeted 'Bolero', it has it's own cartoony style (flatter, generally less fluid and largely lateral) and is very clever in it's own way. The gags about the dog-eat-dog nature of Darwin's Theory are similar and the Canadian film even makes a point of hitting key instances in the biological evolution of life (single cells become dual, then mutations breed mutations, various mating rituals, etc)>. The ending lacks the social comment punch of Bozetto's film, but at the same time it conjures the alien origins opening of 'Bolero.'





EVOLUTION (1971)seems to have been made and released well ahead of ALLEGRO (1976), but I have never known if it was an inspiration for that piece or merely a coincidence.

I've also never been able to uncover any additional information about the film or it's writer/director Michael Mills, so if anyone out there has the scoop, please weigh in. IMDb appears to have him confused with a BBC executive, which seems dubious, tho not impossible.

Finally: To be explicitly clear, I am not suggesting someone ripped anybody off because even if there is some crossover chance, the makers of Bolero certainly went their own way with the idea and did a very original take on it. For that matter, I myself have been entertained and inspired by both films over the years. It has been impossible for me to do any artwork on the Fossil Fools idea without thinking of either of these two films. Although a third film, also by NFB, is also a big influence on FF, even though it is much less related to the subject matter...

4 comments:

Michael Sporn said...

Michael Mills was born in England starting his career at the Griffin Studios, where he was able to work under David Hand. He joined the NFB in 1966 and gained fame with "Evolution." He moved on to opening his own commercial company in Montreal. His film, "Evolution" was followed with "The "History of the World in 3 minutes Flat." He also directed the ½ hour show "The Happy Prince" which circulated widely back in the late 70's.
I've often wondered if he was still in business having not heard from his studio in years.

Will Finn said...

Thanks Michael! I will seek out these other titles.

EVOLUTION is a cracking good short and one of several favorites for me among the NFB titles.

David Nethery said...

Michael Mills Productions website:

http://www.thumbnailanimation.com/about.html

Will Finn said...

Thanks Dave!