Short of the Week

Anna & Bella

Two elderly women relive their youth with a laugh and a wince as a series of dramatic events unfold in this classic Oscar-winning animation.

Borge Ring was 88 last month. Here at Short of the Week we celebrate innovative movies from all over the world. Often they are newly made, but occasionally a classic sneaks in. Borge made Anna & Bella in 1984 and it won an Oscar the following year. It is the story of two elderly women reliving their youth, though the laughter gives way to memories of  heartache as jealousy threatened to tear them apart.

In a funny opening sequence one sees, in full colour, the beast devouring the beauty, only to track upwards to the girl reading her comic and picking her nose. The sisters of the title are seen through their photo albums, their life revealed in an initially warm and joyous series of escapades as Bella steals the toilet tissue, their parents greet them at the peel of the school bell and the pair grow to womanhood amidst flowers. The mature women laugh riotously over the snapshots of their younger selves, red wine served in copious amounts. The mood changes abruptly with the arrival of the long haired young man on an excursion with the pair. His attention is diverted from one to the other, leaving one sister in raptures, the other seething on the long drive home.

The mood swings are reflected in a variety of styles incorporated in the one movie, the different forms somehow harmoniously, and always ingeniously, grouped in a movie of rare depth. Borge moves through shades of grey for the past, judicious use of colour elsewhere, whilst metaphor is used for the men as bees fly from their hives to the pubescent girls, very shapely now in mini skirts; or watch the girl circle the moon when the bee has landed! The animation is effortlessly drawn because, first and foremost, Borge is a consummate artist able to catch the moment—the two old ladies rolling around in glee, or clutching a sister’s arm as memories cause pain. There is also a dramatic scene towards the end that is riveting though the conclusion is not to be spoiled here. In under 8 minutes Borge moves from laughter to tears to… well, watch this warm  movie yourself. The YouTube link was posted by Anne-Mieke, Borge’s daughter.

Borge is a warm human being. He has just sent me a DVD of his work and, on discovering my secret past, swaps theatrical stories. He has lived in the Netherlands for many years though he was born in Denmark. He enjoys communicating with fans, of whom I am pleased to be included.

UK resident, Ian is presently Vice Principal of a large specialist performing arts college in the north of England. He also runs the Animation Blog in which he reviews animations from around the world. He can as well enjoy Ted Avery as Michael Dudoc de Wit.
  • Nils

    embedding disabled

  • Jason Sondhi

    Thanks Nils. We’ll try to work something out. Until then click the Youtube link underneath the big “Play” button. That’s an outbound link to the film’s Youtube page.

  • Soph

    That was wonderful. Abrupt and mind blowing finish!