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Shorts from nine countries representing the lighter side of animation make for imaginative, whimsical and downright enjoyable viewing that no real fan of animation will want to miss


(L, S) Some obscene Freudian terminology and symbolism.

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No real fan of animation will want to miss these shorts from nine countries, representing the lighter side of animation, which for the most part are imaginative, whimsical and downright enjoyable.

The masterpiece in the bunch is “Welcome,” a ten-minute wonder from director Alexei Karaev and artist Alexander Petrov of the Soviet Union. Using a technique whereby oil paint is applied directly on glass to create lovely, subdued images in earth tones, a wonderful Dr. Seuss-like fairy tale is told about an accommodating moose who allows several animal friends to take up residence in his antlers.

The guests carve windows and doors in his antlers, hang their laundry out to dry, and throw raucous tea parties atop the moose’s head, but the moose never says a harsh word. However, when he sheds his antlers, the joy ride comes to an end.

Another Soviet contribution, a whimsical segment entitled “Poumse,” deals with a cunning trader who arrives on a remote island to do business with the natives. However, the brightly colored clothing he distributes is put on in all but the correct way.

In “Darkness, Light, Darkness” by Czech clay-animator Jan Svankmajer, a man literally creates himself from raw, body parts. Hands and parts of arms appear first and begin to assemble themselves; then eyes, ears, and torso pop into their proper places until the man is complete.

Other portions include a computer animation that takes viewers on a wild and wacky outer-space journey, a pencil drawing that satirizes man’s search for worldly wisdom, and an Italian tongue-in-cheek tribute to man’s search for spiritual truth. Also scattered throughout are shorts featuring “Dr. Janice” (a savvy, know-it-all doctor who has an answer for everything), which were formerly used as bumpers between commercials on “The Tracy Ullman Show.”

Although the animation in CELEBRATION is always excellent, some of the shorts often lack good punchlines. Thematically, many contain a healthy dose of 1990s cynicism about our materialistic world, and the opening segment regrettably uses some Freudian terminology which may be deemed obscene. However, overall, this is mostly 90 minutes of completely fantastical viewing and well-done animation that is hard to beat.

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