Animated Mythology (Part 1)

Still shot from Ponyo, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, 2008.
Still shot from Ponyo, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, 2008.

It is no revelation that we live in an increasingly visual society, so let’s get the obvious negative out of the way first. All too often, people who prefer to watch are also people who prefer not to read, and they miss out on beneficial interaction with the printed page. It is my opinion (along with those of many others) that reading more fully exercises the imagination by requiring the reader to visualize what he or she is reading. I will go one step further by saying that among those who read, some deny themselves the three-dimensional and tactile pleasure of reading actual hard copies of books. Digital devices are fine, but I see them more as a convenient substitute and second choice when carrying one or more books is too cumbersome.

Now for the positives. Good imagery on a screen can also stimulate the imagination and can sometimes capture nuance and impressions as well as words. It can also do so more quickly. A facial expression that lasts less than a second takes considerably more than that to describe, and this affects timing, which is also a major factor in determining the effectiveness of essential events within a story.

Compared to motion pictures with actors and digital special effects, animation has the additional capability of being more impressionistic. It can capture and generate a sometimes wider emotional palate. What I like about this is that it can re-engage the viewer’s imagination and thereby produce a similar effect to that of literature. Images that hint at something require something else of those who watch them. I will aslo mention here that, for the above reasons, I have a preference for animations drawn by hand.

Over the next series of posts, I will mention different examples of animated mythology that have impacted me. My purpose will not be to review these animations but rather to identify certain of their qualities which impressed me. Until next week…

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