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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Stop Motion > Science Fiction > Large Frame Format > More (1998) Special Edition Set (Animation)

More (1998) – Special Edition Set

 

Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: A-     Film: A-

 

 

I was first introduced to Mark Osborne’s amazing 1998 short film in the Best Of Resfest – Volume Two collection, reviewed elsewhere on this site.  Then, I thought it could be a classic.  Now, I know it is.  With digital being even more overdone in the last few years, this looks better than ever.  With the ugly things than have happened in the real world politically, what it has to say and show is more priceless than ever.

 

In the film, the first stop-motion film ever made in the 15-perf 65mm IMAX format despite its existence in the 1970s (!!!), a world of the not too distant future has turned totally gray and conformist.  The main worker character labors in a factory making the same product over and over again simply called happy.  He is totally unhappy with his life and becomes continuously distant from who he really is and used to be.  He is trapped by loneliness, ugliness and an awful life not of his choosing.  Secretly, he is building a rival to the product, but it is missing that special something.  When he figures out the missing ingredient, will he find himself in a Faustian deal?

 

Even with the huge following for Ray Harryhausen (see more about him elsewhere on this site), the idea of declaring stop motion animation and most other great art forms as dying when they are not is wishful thinking on the part of people who hate the arts and those within the arts who have little to offer and think digital is the answer to everything.  More proves the art form has a long way to go to meet its promise of making a permanent impact that will never go away and always be seen as the unique language it is.  More than a few computer animation projects have tried to recreate it digitally with limited effect, while LucasFilm helped created a computerized version called stop-and-go animation, where the subjects filmed have electronic ganglia inside that will reproduce the same movements over and over again.  This has its advantages, but is not as soulful as its predecessor.

 

Here, because of the demands of the extremely high fidelity and definition beyond all other film and video formats, it is one of the all-time great historic moments for stop motion animation and all of animation.  Like shooting on film versus video, special visual effects done by hand versus by computer has created a chasm between those who want to work hard and make something unique, versus working in something “easier” and ignoring some key limits to what seems limitless when it is not.  It is a matter of character and what Osborne and his crew pulled off here is just pure genius, with the visual and thematic impact on a very high level.  That alone is the reason More is so priceless.  No wonder this great double DVD set was possible.

 

The Resfest set offered it in its original full frame 1.33 x 1 IMAX aspect ration, but this new version is in an even sharper, cleaner, clearer, widescreen letterboxed 1.78 X 1 version that is even more beautiful than the older transfer.  Whether this is from a 65mm/70mm or 35mm print, it looks really good, though there is nothing like seeing this in IMAX, so catch it near you that way as well if you get the opportunity.  It should be noted that Image Entertainment has done 1.78 X 1 versions of 1.33 x 1 full-length IMAX features and even anamorphically enhanced them, but this looks really good for non-anamorphic.  The sound on the Resfest version was simple 2-channel Dolby Digital Stereo, but this version has a more accurate and deeper Dolby Digital 5.1 mix.  I only wish DTS 96/24 was here too.  However, this Dolby is more akin to the higher fidelity Dolby you usually get on DVD-Audio discs, so that works well enough.

 

The extras are many and terrific.  On DVD 1, we get two audio commentary tracks by Osbourne, include text “about Happy Product” which has highly recommended websites, other shorts by Osbourne (Greener, info on Keen Yellow Planet, his earliest work with Juvenilia, and info about his upcoming The Better Half), an extensive Behind The Scenes set of programs that begins on this disc with five sections that makes for exceptional must-see viewing, including an hour-long Making Of program that covers the project from basic conceptions to its Donnie Darko-caliber effect and impact.  Osborne also narrates his sketches for the second section, a multi-angle Storyboards & Animatics section, crew sections with text, stills of the production and all the IMAX footage in 1.33 x 1 that was ever shot for the production.  This continues on DVD 2 with a piece on how Graphic Films donated the IMAX camera with how it is operated (excellent and a must-see for serious filmmakers), sweatshop shows the intense atmosphere building up the pieces for the film, On The Set The First Day shows just that well, the stress shows in The First Test Screening when the complete IMAX film was shown for the first time, Setting Up A Shot and Animating A Shot are decent, Factory Set gives new perspectives on the hard work done for this film, Home Stretch is when they are almost done getting the film made and both The Premiere (with Osborne’s speech and the IMAX screening in tact) and Sundance show its much-deserved success.

 

Also on DVD 2 is a trailer for More that shows behind the scenes for promotional sake, then there are two more stop-motion animation shorts by other directors as smart as More.  Keith Lowry’s Twice Daily (1.33 X 1) is about the desires of two neighbors and what it is that may really drive them, though this is bound to go over a few person’s heads.  Nick Peterson’s MuM (1.78 X 1) is an also-terrific short about what a woman facing an abusive situation and pregnancy has to do to escape an ugly nightmare situation, filled with visual symbolism some may miss.  Perfect companions to More, these are beautifully rendered works that look great are about something, with great impact.  The transfers are top rate and the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo are cleaner and clearer than most shorts we have encountered on DVD to date.  Both even come with their own audio commentary tracks!

 

All together, that makes this special edition set of More one of the most significant in animation and large-frame formats on DVD to date, but you can only order it exclusively at http://www.happyproduct.com/films.html where you can order this and other titles, plus go to http://www.happyproduct.com for general information.  Mark Osborne and his team of extraordinarily talented craftspeople are pulling off landmark work that just makes one look in awe.  It may have just saved the art form.  Be sure to catch it!

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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