Lesson Plan: Animation Week


Ian here—

It is a shame to only teach one week on animation in an Intro to Film class, but I bowed to departmental tradition when I taught Intro to Film in spring 2015 and devoted only my final week of class to it. My screening for this week included Hummingbird Wars (Janie Geiser, 2014)Adventure Time S1E6, “The Jiggler” (Larry Leichliter, 2010), and The Lego Movie (Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, 2014).

This lesson preceded that screening, and pursued the following learning objectives: 1) I wanted students to understand that animators can work with individual frames of cinema, which can lead to the illusion of movement, but doesn’t have to. This would prep them for the flicker effects and broken motion of Geiser’s Hummingbird Wars. 2) I wanted to direct student attention to the salient aspects of Eisenstein’s theory of the “plasmatic” potential of animation, which finds expression in the Adventure Time episode. 3) I wanted students to be able to express some key aesthetic differences between hand-drawn and computer generated animation—specifically, that while hand-drawn animation excels at fulfilling Eisenstein’s “plasmatic” potential, CG animation excels at accurately simulating the physics of our everyday world.

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Everything is Aesthetic: Realism and Abstraction in The Lego Movie


Juho Lee

The Lego Movie (2014) is a parody on so many levels. The story follows Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces outline to a tee. Almost every character is unabashedly an archetype or parody of something, be it The Matrix, the Dark Knight trilogy, or Morgan Freeman. But it’s all intentional. The superficial plot is as contrived and derivative as a child’s imaginary adventures with plastic representations of pop culture properties are expected to be. Once The Lego Movie establishes that the story is a fabricated metaphor of deeper conflict at the heart of the film, the perpetual parody becomes meaningful and easier to swallow.

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