Friday 10 February 2012

Spotlight on Short Films: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Given this site's new self touted focus on classic short films and cartoons, it seems only appropriate to cover a broader range of animated shorts. Up until recently, Pixar has been my main outlet of animated shorts - with a few Disney ones cropping up too - however, I've recently started watching more, and one that I particularly loved (to the extent that it deserved its own post) is The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

The short, "inspired, in equal measures, by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and a love for books, “Morris Lessmore” is a story of people who devote their lives to books and books who return the favor.". You've likely, if you haven't seen it, heard the short mentioned in the context of it being one of the 5 shorts nominated for the Best Animated Short Film Oscar this year, and there's a reason it's nominated! Personally, I loved I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat (the Looney Tunes short attached to Happy Feet Two) and that didn't get an Oscar nod, whereas Morris Lessmore did, so that should tell you something about the amazing quality of this short. Having now seen it, I can safely say that it would've caused me some hesitancy in my choice for the Best Animated Short Film A113Animation Award this year.

I'm harping on here, but my superlatives and hyperbole are apt in this case, as Morris Lessmore is brilliant. This shan't be a full review, as this post is intended merely to get you to go out and watch this short and to praise Moonbot Studios (the company behind it) for their talent. The animation is luscious and the style charming, the musical accompaniment is soft and nostalgic and it's an all round very touching, poignant film about the effect that books and, more broadly than that, - as this seems to be the mantra of Moonbot - about the effect that story can have on us.

Moonbot have done a wonderful job here and (having not seen any of their rival nominees - although I hear nothing but glowing reviews of Pixar's La Luna) I'd say they have a strong chance at the 84th Academy Awards later this month; they'd certainly deserve it. The studio who say, rather than devoted to any one medium - as they've also released a few acclaimed iPad apps - they are devoted to telling the best story they can. One thing's for certain, co-directors William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg and their team at Moonbot have certainly accomplished that here.

To surmise in platitudinal terms: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is fantastic!

Watch The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore on Moonbot's website via Vimeo; visit the short's official site (where you can see some great concept art); and like both the short and Moonbot's official Facebook pages.

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