recess radio program

5/12/04
The Hubleys, a Family of Animators
    by John Cech

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That's the opening from the animated film, Cockaboody, from the Hubley Studios of Canada. The late John Hubley and his wife and creative partner, Faith, have been responsible over the past three decades for bringing to the screen some of the most delightful, and challenging short films for both child and adult audiences. For example, Cockaboody is about two young sisters playing together -- singing, talking, inventing stories and fantasies (like the one the younger child spontaneously names "cockaboody" after a blue rubber duckie), getting angry, making up, questioning each other about getting married, about how best to assemble some plastic nuts and bolts into a toy, and ultimately about life and death. The voices of the children are unrehearsed and are those of the Hubley's daughters, Georgia and Emily, who were quite young when this film was made in 1973. Emily has since gone on to become a filmmaker, too, and a number of her animated works appear on the three DVD anthologies of the Hubleys' work that are available.

The voices of the Hubleys' two sons, Mark and Hampy , provide the narrative for the Academy-Award winning short film, Moonbird. The children -- again, one older, one younger -- go questing for an elusive, imaginary creature -- a cross between an ostrich, a flamingo, and an egret -- using jellybeans and their singing of "I Been Working on the Railroad" to attract the magic bird and persuade it to come home with them. The visual styles of the Hubleys are unlike what we're used to in cartoons -- Moonbird, for instance, is all done in blue watercolors and loose, impressionstic lines, without the sharpness that usually defines cartoon characters and landscapes. And in Faith Hubley's abstract, mythical, stream-of-consciousness animations -- we're in the worlds of Juan Miró and aboriginal artists, with forms that have come to dancing, giggling, giddy, pulsating life. It's animation come right up to the edge ... of eternity:

Brief sound clip

Copyright 2004 © John Cech

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