Thursday, 15 January 2015

Adaptation Film Programme: Mary and Max (2009)

Figure 1: Movie Poster  [Still Image]
Mary and Max (2009) is an Australian claymation which was written and directed by Adam Elliot and produced by Melanie Coombs. The Australian born director based in Melbourne, is well known for his love for clayographies (Clay animated biographies) and his traditional ‘in-camera’ technique. Mary and Max is one of his many successful piece of work. This claymation won a few prestigous awards. This includes Best Animated Feature Film at the Asia Pacific Screen Award (2009) and the Grand Prize at the Ottawa International Animation Festival (2009). In all of Elliot’s works, there are bits and pieces of the happenings in the society at the point of time the claymation was made that he had included. In this case, it was how the idea of certain people from the society was conceived. Additionally, the authenticity of the materials to make the animation remains intact because the methodology that he follow is of the French auteur. This means that he refuses to digitally edit them by adding any computer generated imagery to them. To make his animation possible, he has recruited a very large number of animators and modelmakers to personally have his ideas handcrafted.  Because of this, each film takes a few years to be completed.

Mary and Max is about two unlikely people from opposite ends of the globe who became pen pals. It all started when a curious 8 year old Australian girl named Mary Daisy Dinkle wanting to find about more about Americans. One day, at a post office, she randomly picks Max Jerry Horowitz’s name from the phone book and decided to write him a letter, introducing herself and hopes for a reply from the American. She was delighted when the 44 year old obese, Jewish atheist replied. It was then that the start of a great friendship. Additionally, they were able to relate to each other because of their common struggles which includes bullying. Max offered advices to solve the problems that she was facing because he had been through them before.

I think that the film is trying make the society aware that problems like alcohol abuse and bullying, to name a few, will affect an individual mentally if no proper action is taken against the person doing it to them. In this case, what each character suffers from/ experienced was brought forward to their adulthood. This shows that those scars are etched in their memory and sometimes it is hard to get over it. This indeed is a strong message about what bullying can do to an individual. I believe that the film has successfully put the message across. In terms the art direction, it is indeed a stylized animation as the character are designed to be quite chunky and that the colours used are mainly brown and grey but occasional specks of red, which was used appropriately to depict love in some scenes. With that said, however, there were some scenes or dialogues that I find inappropriate for a film that has been rated PG 13 by the Motion Picture Association of America. This did affect me while watching it because I would laughed it off but an interpretation from a younger audience would be different and this film is for audiences from all age groups. All in all, I would recommend this film because despite several parts of the film that I find inappropriate, the bigger message of it was that how society acts towards an individual will affect and destroy them in some ways and it is an issue that has to be addressed. Also, the start of beautiful friendship can be as unexpected as that of Mary and Max. 

List of Illustration:

Figure 1 Mary and Max (2009) [Poster] at (Accessed on 15 January 2015)

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