David Jefferson looks at the late night feature film programmes presented at the Cambridge Animation Festival held September 1983.
A strong bunch of films were chosen for the feature section of the Cambridge Festival. Some were familiar works such as THE PLAGUE DOGS and FRITZ THE CAT, others were brand new and not yet generally released in this country such as ROCK AND RULE and TWICE UPON A TIME. All were presented late at night, starting at 11.00 p.m.
On the Thursday, Friday and Saturday two feature films were presented simultaneously by taking over the Arts Theatre as well as the Arts Cinema. This meant that on the Saturday night there was a difficult choice to make between the European premier of a new sci—fi rock feature from Canada called ROCK AND RULE and the acclaimed THE KING AND MISTER BIRD by Paul Grimault. It was a choice between sex and violence on the one hand and a Hans Christian Anderson story on the other. After much deliberation we ended up at the Arts Theatre for ROCK AND RULE.
An introduction tells us that “after the war the only survivors were street animals – dogs, cats and rats. A new race of mutants evolved “The mutants are almost human characters with the main concession to their animal origins being their noses. The film opens with a pop group in rehearsal having a disagreement about who is the leading member. The female singer Angel, a blond bombshell with the singing voice of Debbie Harry, is demonstrating her talent when Mok, a legendary super rocker enters the theatre to listen. It turns out that Angel’s voice is the final ingredient he needs to add to other sounds that he has been collecting with the aid of a computer that will enable him to gain super natural powers and thus rule the world. Mok lures Angel to his gothic style mansion where he performs various magic tricks to try to impress her. The other members of the rock group are suspicious of Mok’s intent¬ions and follow them to the mansion. Mok uses his magic powers to outwit them and leaves for the big city with Angel. But the boys from the rock group don’t give up easily and many adventures follow.
The animation is beautifully done, particularly in the case of Mok. There is good attention to detail such as the scene when Mok is watching Angel from his car. We see Mok’s f ace and then the car window winds down and we realise we have been watching his reflection in the glass.
The rostrum cameraman has used an interesting technique to give the scenes depth. The scene is composed of various layers, as in the multi-plane camera used by Disney, but there is also depth to the focus. Instead of the scene being sharp from foreground to back¬ground parts of it are allowed to go out of focus. For example the foreground objects may be fuzzy while the background is sharp. This does help to add to the depth of the scene as this sort of thing happens in live action photography.
ROCK AND RULE was directed by Clive Smith with original music written and performed by Cheap Trick, Debbie Harry, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop and special performance by Earth, Wind and Fire.