The animated film world is something I have been in love with my whole life. I began my journey the way most do, singing with princesses and wishing on princes in the magically patriarchal world of fairytale. However, as I grew to appreciate the talent invested in animation, my love grew outside of the Disney franchise.
My first step outside of the black mouse bubble was with a company from Japan. Studio Ghibli is what most Japanese citizens would call the Walt Disney of the East. With such magical films like Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away, my heart soared when the director in charge of the Company partnered with Pixar animations to bring this beautiful artwork to the United States. The most notable film in the Studio Ghibli collection is one I’ve loved since I was 15. Princess Mononoke combines the mysterious appeal of feudal Japanese myths and stunning artwork. With voice actors like Claire Danes, Billy Bob Thornton, and Minnie Driver, the film has as much “star power” as you might expect from a live action feature.
Moving deeper into my love of animation, I recently stumbled onto a feature from Europe that has blown the animated world away. With a near perfect film review from most critics, Song of the Sea follows two Irish children as they travel together to save themselves and the spirit world.Based on Irish folklore, Song of the Sea takes animation to a creatively abstract level that evokes emotion with every animated cell. And of course, who doesn’t love a film full of Irish accents.
Finally, I have come to realize that animation does not always include pen and ink. The last on my animated recommendation list is a film that quickly came and went in theatres without much attention. The Boxtrolls is a darkly humored stop-motion animation about an unsettling town and the creatures that live below. The nearly lost art of stop-motion is found in this film to be utterly fascinating. The stylized detail that it takes to create a feature length film using this animation technique is something to be revered. Patience, my good friends, so much patience.
The Boxtrolls, along with all of the films I’ve come to know and love, show the amount of care and dedication animators cultivate in their chosen craft. I hope that you too can learn to enjoy animated features the way that I have. Growing into a world outside of the Disney umbrella, I have found animation to be one of the most expressive and creative outlets in film making. I wait in anticipation to see what animated films I will fall in love with this coming year.