Sur­real Life:

Animation Magazine - - Features -

is in­stead a sim­ile for the cramped, re­mote vil­lage in the Las Hur­des re­gion of Spain whose stone roofs re­sem­ble tur­tle shells) is based on the graphic novel by Fer­min Solís. It presents a chap­ter in young Luis Buñuel’s life in which he was strug­gling to emerge out of the shadow of artist Sal­vador Dalí, with whom he had made the sur­re­al­ist films Un Chien An­dalou (1928) and L’age d’or (1930), the lat­ter of which was so scan­dalous it ren­dered him un­em­ploy­able.

Plagued by night­mares (in­clud­ing one fea­tur­ing gi­gan­tic, stilted ele­phants) and haunted by mem­o­ries of his re­la­tion­ship with his el­derly, strict fa­ther, the direc­tor is at­tempt­ing to re­claim his life and ca­reer. This is de­spite his worst in­cli­na­tions, which drive him to chal­lenge au­thor­ity, even that rep­re­sented by his close friend and de facto pro­ducer Ramón Acín (an­other no­table fig­ure), whose lot­tery win­nings pro­vided the fi­nanc­ing for the doc­u­men­tary.

The film is as much about the per­sonal strug­gle be­tween these two com­pa­tri­ots as it is about the mak­ing of a film-within-a-film. “My fa­vorite se­quence is the first time we see Luis with Ramón be­cause that mo­ment needed to feel homey, and we did not want to over­work the di­a­logue,” Simó says. “We said as much as we could with images, which was a huge chal­lenge for the an­i­ma­tion, the act­ing. It was a woman, Gi­u­lia Landi, the su­per­vis­ing an­i­ma­tor for Sub­ma­rine, who did that whole se­quence, and I think it was done bril­liantly.”

A Global Ven­ture

Am­s­ter­dam-based Sub­ma­rine was one of the stu­dios em­ployed to an­i­mate the film, along with Span­ish stu­dios The Glow, Syg­na­tia and Hampa. Free­lance artists from all over, in­clud­ing Colom­bia and the United States, also con­trib­uted. “It was a mat­ter of hav­ing a bal­ance be­tween se­nior pro­fes­sion­als and giv­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to many ju­nior pro­fes­sion­als,” says Manuel Cristóbal. “When you have in­ter­est­ing projects you at­tract in­ter­est­ing peo­ple, and if you are hon­est and say this is a very com­pet­i­tive bud­get, [you say] we can do this if you will join us. Spain is a very com­pet­i­tive coun­try.”

As direc­tor, Simó worked closely with art direc­tor José Luis Ágreda to find a rough, nat­u­ral­is­tic look for the film, both for the set­tings and the an­i­ma­tion. “We didn’t want squas­hand-stretch, we wanted real act­ing,” he says. “We didn’t want to have the film smooth, so we were try­ing to give the graph­ics of the film some rough­ness.”

Key to this ef­fect was an­i­mat­ing on threes. “When I was work­ing with Manolo Galiana, the an­i­ma­tion direc­tor, he was do­ing some rough things and some tests, and I said, ‘Just leave it like this, don’t even in­be­tween,’” Simó says. “He was like, ‘No, no, no, we have to inbe- tween this!’ But it was so ex­pres­sive. What is im­por­tant in act­ing is not that the char­ac­ter is mov­ing, be­cause the au­di­ence can­not look at the ex­pres­sion of the char­ac­ter while he is mov­ing. You have to keep the char­ac­ter still and let the au­di­ence read what the char­ac­ter is think­ing.”

This is most ef­fec­tively played in the fi­nal con­fronta­tion scene be­tween Ramón and Luis, in which Acín an­grily up­braids his direc­tor for act­ing ir­re­spon­si­bly, even in­sanely. “[The char­ac­ter of] Ramón is work­ing a lot and be­ing re­ally ex­pres­sive, and the re­ac­tion of Luis is just one draw­ing,” Simó notes.

Guided By Voices

Voice record­ing ses­sions were han­dled in an un­con­ven­tional fash­ion as well. In­stead of record­ing the script line-by-line, Simó gath­ered his ac­tors and in­structed them to play the scene as though on stage, while a boom mic recorded the lines.

“It gave a lot more re­al­ity to the ac­tion,” he states. “It made it more nat­u­ral, and that was ex­actly what we were try­ing to do, have more nat­u­ral feel­ing. Also, it gives the an­i­ma­tors strong tools to work with.” Some char­ac­ters speak in Span­ish and French, re­flect­ing the fact that Buñuel lived in both places at var­i­ous times. Simó goes on to say that many of the ac­tors were cast be­cause they were from the same re­gion as the char­ac­ters they were

For more info, visit www.bunue­lenellaber­into.com and www.the­glowan­i­ma­tion.com.

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