Blu is back with another monumental graffiti animation. They seem to grow larger in scale each time (duration too, Big Bang Big Boom is nearly 15 minutes of hand-painted stop motion!). Before I jump in, there’s another topic I’d like to illuminate here: the short filmmaker’s overly-grandiose sophomoric slump.
Blu is reaching that point where an artist, boxed in by initial success around a signature style, wishes to tell a larger, more important story that transcends their early explorations—an opus, a Lawrence of Arabia. Some succeed, others don’t. And I think I know what separates the two. I remember seeing Don Hertzfeldt’s The Meaning of Life for the first time and feeling disappointingly underwhelmed by an otherwise very talented animator. Don’s work is great. He has an impeccable filmography under his belt—except for The Meaning of Life. Why? Because Don’s best work is about the subtleties in life that go unnoticed. For filmmakers like Don and Blu, these big, grand stories are much too generic. We’re drawn to these filmmakers because of their ability to reveal and extrapolate on the nuances of life not ponder its ultimate existence.
In Big Bang Big Boom, Blu takes his first foray into stringing his signature anamorphic animation style into something of a cohesive story. Wisely, he doesn’t over-complicate the narrative, but rather uses a simple theme of evolution in which to craft his street characters. Though it might initially come off as a bit grandiose, try not to take it too seriously. Glance over the larger story and spend your time with his fascinating images like the shark eaten by a group of smaller fish in the shape of a shark or the evolution of mankind told through weaponry.
Blu’s real story is in his technique which he uses to great effect. It’s nothing new. This film with these techniques could have been made 50 years ago—even 100. And yet it’s completely new. No one has so freely moved across urban wastelands from painted walls to duct work to trash and other objects. Never before has such a desolate setting breathed such life. It’s that innocently antiquated yet boldly fresh quality that makes it so mesmerizing. Enjoy the next 15 minutes of your day.