The Animation Show Box Set
© Don Hertzfeldt/Bitter Films
A big treat is that Don Hertzfeldt has included his shorts on the discs. His cloud-shaped stick figures that appear in the Animation Show intermission cartoons cause disturbing amount of laughter without doing or saying much. Intermission in the Third Dimension cannot be described, it must be seen. Billy's Balloon, included on volume two, is Herzfeld's student film from 1998. It is one of the darkest and funniest cartoons ever made. Surprisingly, one feels a fair amount of guilt while laughing at stick-figure children being beaten by their playthings. The Meaning of Life, Herzfeld's cacophonic opus from 2005, is also included.

Discoveries include Australian Adam Elliot's Uncle, Cousin and Brother, a trilogy he made prior to Harvie Krumpet. All three are caricatured stop-motion portraits that feature dark humour, voice-over narration and traces of autobiography. The portraits' subjects have strong character, although they are animated very frugally. For example, the uncle becomes as fleshed out as any Aardman character merely by blinking and waving to his nephew. This minimalism works in conjunction with the desaturated colour palettes and the sense of longing for family members no longer present, suggested by the narrator.

For die-hard animators and animation fans, the first film of the set, Mt. Head (Atama Yama) is a must see. This Japanese short, directed and superbly animated by Koji Yamamura, is based on an old children's tale. It features a stingy, middle-aged protagonist living happily in seclusion. His peace is disturbed by a plant that keeps growing on top of his head. All sequences in this short have fabulously weighty drawn animation. The sequences in which the man struggles with the plant make for addictive viewing.

There are plenty more reasons to get the Animation Show DVD set, and one of them are the cutting-edge independent CG films included in it. Fallen Art by Tomek Baginski is sharply executed, twisted and anti-authoritive; watch it to see dead soldiers do a dance for their superiors' amusement. Another reason to get this DVD is to see the brilliance of experimental filmmakers David Russo and Georges Schwizgebel. Go get The Animation Show box set and forget about mainstream animation for a while.

DVD Features: English audio track; Region 1.

DVD Extras: Commentaries, pencil tests, preproduction art galleries; production photo album; storyboard-to-scene comparison; 100 Years of Animation Shorts and making-of featurettes; bonus films. 
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