A total gem

An animated film can be more powerful than one with human actors, if it’s outstanding. A case in point is Harvie Krumpet by Australian writer/director Adam Elliot which won an Oscar for Best Short Film in 2004. The odds are against Harvie right from the beginning of his life — he has Tourette’s Syndrome, gets struck by lightning, and in his brain is a metal plate (inserted after an accident) that develops magnetic capacities and causes all sorts of metal objects to stick to his head. However, he doesn’t get defeated by life’s blows but maintains a gentle and touching dignity throughout calamities and misfortune. And yes, there’s happiness as well; seemingly short-lived, it could be the strong undercurrent of Harvie’s life that surfaces only sporadically but is always there, beneath appearances.

Harvie collects “fakts” which he keeps in a book he wears around his neck, fakts such as “The bible was written by the same people who believe the earth is flat”, or “There are 3 times more chickens in the world than humans”, or “Fakts still exist, even if they are ignored”. Funny and sad, humorous and moving, the story of our humble and lovable character, wonderfully expressive with the help of stop motion/claymation, seemed to have but one tiny flaw — it was too short, little more than 20 minutes long. To my delight, I just learned that Elliot recently finished a feature-length animated film, Mary and Max, which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and will be released at a theater near you on 9 November. Can’t wait!

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