Presto Film analysis


Throughout the ‘Disney Pixar’ short animated film, ‘Presto’ (Doug Sweetland, USA, 2008) there are many references to past, traditional animations such as l

‘Looney Tunes’ (Warner Bros ,USA, 1930-69) and ‘Tom and Jerry’ ( Hanna-Barbera, USA, 1940-58) while also keeping to the more modern ‘Disney Pixar’ style. This is most obviously shown through the use of slapstick comedy, off screen space and classic binary oppositions.

The most obvious comparison is to the characters of ‘Bugs Bunny’ and ‘Elmer Fudd’; A rivalry of human and rabbit, with the rabbit inevitably getting one up on the human. The juxtaposition of big and small is also present in both animations, The lanky magician ‘Presto’ contrasting with ‘Alec’ the tiny rabbit matches with the long design of ‘Bugs Bunny’ and short, round ‘Elmer Fudd’. Perhaps this is common in these animations due to the long design being fitting for slapstick; It exaggerates the extreme movements and adds more motion to the falls and impacts. This is also prominent in ‘Tom and Jerry’ with ‘Tom’ being the target of a majority of the traps, thus being the ‘tall’ character; much like ‘Presto’ who is the target of all the slapstick and also having the lankier proportions. Similarly both the characters of ‘Alec’ and ‘Jerry’ play the intelligent and small roll, this is almost a stereotype throughout animation, the smaller character often has the brains and outsmarts the bigger characters, perhaps the ‘David and Goliath’ effect. Certainly these antagonists combine fighting and comedy through slapstick and the use of ‘silly’ props; which add humor and conflict. This is directly shown in the film ‘Presto’ through the falling piano which is iconic of classical animation. Where the slapstick element contrasts to the ‘Tom and Jerry’ ‘chase and catch’ style is the possibly cliché ‘happy ending’. Both ‘Presto’ and ‘Alec’ ending up with what they want at the end of the animated short, which gives an ‘everyone’s a winner’ ending. opposing this, ‘Tom and Jerry’ rarely sees ‘Jerry’ being caught by ‘Tom’, and gives the audience gratification of the mouse escaping the cat.

The animated short, ‘Presto’ effectively combines aspects of classical animation and modern ‘Pixar’ animation and creates a perhaps perfect homage to the traditional ‘Warner Bros’ films. This is most efficiently shown through the use of sound. The non-diegetic sounds show classical music which are dependent on the characters actions and the emotions, perhaps giving the illusion of diegetic sounds. This was a common convention in classical animations with emphasis on characters footsteps being mimicked through non-diegetic sounds rather than the conventional ‘diegetic’ sounds of footsteps. This may also not be unique to ‘Presto’ and is shown through many ‘Pixar’ short films. Examples of this include ‘La Luna’ (Enrico Casarosa , USA , 2011) , ‘Day & Night’ ( Teddy Newton, USA, 2010) and ‘For the birds’ ( Ralph Eggleston, USA, 2000). These ‘Pixar’ shorts do not use dialogue and uses sounds or music to convey emotions. Perhaps this is a common theme in Pixar shorts as they allow animators to be more creative, and the narratives can be more free that the ‘Hollywood’ animation that follows. This allows more of a focus on the visual storytelling rather than conveying a full story, it can have a very simplistic story and a strong focus on the visual aspects.

I feel ‘Presto’ gives the audience a nostalgic experience through the traditional approach to animation, showing that the simple approach can still work and even be heightened with contemporary methods of animation. The minimal use of camera movements and classic conflict narrative gives the animated short a unique angle in comparison to ‘big action’, contemporary animation and shows an effective modernization of a traditional narrative, which I feel is a perfect homage to classic animation.





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