Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Maybe We're All Just Wild Animals

Maybe We're All Just Wild Animals 

Computer-generated imagery (CGI) has revolutionized the film industry. Critics continually debate whether this change has improved or damaged movie-making as an art. Giannetti argues in Understanding Movies that “The biggest danger of this that it will fall into the hands of moneygrubbing hacks with the artistic sensibilities of gnats...The world’s screens are dominated by soulless movies full of sound and fury, signifying nothing: pointless chases, explosions, gratuitous violence, explosions, lots of speed, explosions, and just for some good measure, more explosions” (34). However, CGI has artistic potential. For example, The Fantastic Mr. Fox utilizes animation in order to enhance it’s main theme. 

The Fantastic Mr. Fox, a film by Wes Anderson, is entirely comprised of animation. Although a technique typically seen in children’s movies, the animated characters in this film convey a complex theme. Through animal characters such as the fantastic Mr. Fox himself and his fox family, the movie explores human nature and the thought, “maybe we’re all just wild animals.” Because the animation serves a metaphorical purpose in this case, the use of CGI increases the film’s logos. Not only do the animal characters play a symbolic role, but they make more sense than human actors would. Characters in The Fantastic Mr. Fox climb trees, bite the heads off chickens, and dig tunnels through the dirt. Human actors simply couldn’t carry out these tasks in a realistic way. For this film, CGI allows for greater artistic expression. 

Additionally, animation in The Fantastic Mr. Fox allows for elements of pathos that could not exist without CGI. For example, human actors could not convey the animalistic facial expression that the characters make. These facial expressions enhance the pathos of the film. The animation also adds pathos by lightening the mood of an otherwise rather dark-themed movie. For example, in a scene where Mr. Fox is confronted by his wife about his habit of lying to her, he replies to her questioning with “because, I’m a wild animal.” Because of the CGI, the deeper meaning in this statement is masked by the reality that he is, quite literally, a wild animal.

Computer-generated imagery, however, does not allow for the ethos that well-known actors provide a film. Although Mr. Fox’s voice belongs to George Clooney, his voice alone cannot provide the movie with the ethos that Clooney’s image and presence would. However, the diversity that acting in an animated movie adds to the personal ethos of an actor. 

According to Understanding Movies by Giannetti, CGI includes... “none of the human subtleties that can be found in scenes where performers are actually interacting” (34). However, films such as The Fantastic Mr. Fox prove that animation can allow for greater artistic expressions as well as enhancing the logos and pathos of a film. However, when GCI takes the place of well-known actors such as in The Fantastic Mr. Fox, it can damage the movie’s ethos. Because the animation in this case improves the film artistically more than it damages the ethos, I give The Fantastic Mr. Fox  three out of five pickles. 

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