Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Transcription: Review on Mary and Max (2009)

Fig.1: Film Poster
Director: Adam Elliot
Producer: Melanie Coombs
Cast: Bethany Whitmore, Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Eric Bana
Year: 2009

Mary and Max is the tale that tells the relationship built between two unlikely friends from different parts of the world. This stop motion animation is a great example of transcription, as it is based on a real story and is very successful in its editing, storytelling and construction. Apart from its succession as an animated film, its content has touched the audience's hearts; dealing with themes that range from bullying, to depression and mental illnesses has brought the film even closer to us. Directed by the award-winning director Adam Elliot, Mary and Max is probably the most powerful and unusual clay animation, putting aside any other adult-driven film and Nick Park's work.
Fig.2: Mary writing to Max.
Mary and Max is a very character-driven film. It is particular focused on the 2 main characters, Mary a lonely 8 year old from the suburbs of Melbourne and Max the forty year old morbidly obese New Yorker who suffers from Asperges Syndrome. Even from it's editing it is clear how Elliot chooses to have a lot of close ups of the characters whenever their emotions get tense and makes signs of great emotions the focal point of the camera such as eyes, tear-drops and sweat on foreheads. Of course the characters' environment is shown but again to impose their emotions, like the grey, big city of New York which for Max, it's a big chaotic place full of intense noises, smells and odd people. For Mary,as a curious eight year old her neighbourhood is a small place but seems so big with all the small stories surrounding the different people in it. 

But what actually brings these characters to life, and eventually makes us forget that they are made out of clay is the story itself and how personal it is. It doesn't resist in being honest about its characters' thoughts and makes use of all of their concerns about life. It brings up issues like sex, prostitution and religion, without offending any of them but making them part of the film itself, a wheel that makes the story roll on. Byrnes suggests that: "The only thing strong enough is a well-built story, with a solid structure and characters made of oak - or in this case, various polymers, clay, plastic and metal. It has to hold an audience because it's a story, not because it's animated." (Byrnes. 2009)

Fig.3: Mary and Max dreaming of finally meeting.
In conclusion, Mary and Max proves that there is no need for polished CG to make a successful story. It's all about the story and the characters. It is a stop motion animation with its own flaws and also have characters that are imperfect in their personality. It is a perfect story about imperfect characters, and that's what all humans are.


List of Illustrations

Fig.1: Film Poster At: (accessed on 1/2/2012)
Fig.2: Mary writing to Max At: (accessed on 1/2/2012)

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