From the Earth to the Moon inspires first Greek animated feature
by Joseph Proimakis
- Angelos Spartalis uses collage and shadow theatre techniques to bring Jules Verne’s classic to screens in its first-ever animated version.
“We battled with the project for five years, got our share of punches before knocking it out, but now it’s ready,” said Cretan filmmaker, writer, painter and engineer Angelos Spartalis, when presenting his film on Monday at the Athens International Film Festival.
No stranger to animation, Spartalis has been touring local festivals for the past years, presenting films mixing live action and collage animation. On his seventh outing, he’s gone all out, presenting his first fully animated feature, the country’s first.
The artwork takes a little getting used to, as it does every time a Spartalis film hits the screens, but that only allows for the story to come forward until one’s eyes clear out enough to appreciate the crudeness of the design.
“The story was asking to be made using collage,” Spartalis explains: “Verne’s brave soldiers were very proud to not be in one piece, to have had their limbs replaced, have arms ending in hooks, jaws made of silver and noses carved out of rubber”.
His film seems to be a collage itself, with topical cultural elements and pop anachronisms spread throughout: the Indians Barbicane’s crew speak in ancient Greek, Michel Ardan is dressed in a Sgt Peppers’ costume, Van Gogh turns up to paint the flag on the space shuttle, and topical dialects are used throughout to spice up the dialogue.
“It’s a Monty Python idea, like in Holy Grail, this period comedy that ends with modern-day police cars and fire brigades” he notes, explaining that “wiser screenwriters than me have avoided turning Verne’s book into a film, because great as it may be, everyone’s talking all the time and nothing really happens. So we had to figure something out, implement tricks like that to keep the audience interested. Let’s hope we nailed it.”
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