Apr 6, 2011

"Ain't I a Stinker?"

Chuck Jones is the only director to have three films deemed "culturally significant" by the United States and selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.

Among these films is "Duck Amuck" (among "What's Opera, Doc?" and "One Froggy Evening"). The movie was released in 1953, during what is generally considered Warner Bros.' golden age. And, truly, it is a masterpiece--at least in my book.

In this short, Chuck Jones plays with the very essential elements of an animated cartoon. What distinguishes a character? How does he interact with his space? Can there be a space without a character, and, vice versa, can there be a character without a space?

It seems to me, as a viewer, that Daffy Duck's presence as a character remains in tact from the beginning to the end of the short, despite being erased, redressed, and, generally, driven to his limits.

I also like Jones' touch in even challenging our notion of certain sound effects. For example, when Daffy strums at the guitar, it makes the sound of a machine gun firing.

In breaking the fourth wall, and subverting our expectations of how characters live in an animated feature, Daffy's character becomes more real and believable. Though the backgrounds and spaces and be recreated and modified, our perception of him as a real character is untarnished--perhaps even strengthened. He exists independent of his surroundings. The only thing that might call that into question is the fact there is an animator that created him. But seeing as it is Bugs Bunny at the end of "Duck Amuck," Jones even subverts the authority of the animator--himself.

If you enjoyed the animation vs. animator theme, and you'd like to see Bugs Bunny in the lead role, have a look "Rabbit Rampage", also by Chuck Jones.


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