Saturday, May 19, 2012

Non-nominated Highlight: Oink (1993)

Well, as I like to point out (and have been kind of proving with the ability to embed or link to 74 of the 92 nominees between 1993-2011), many of the nominated short films are readily available online. However, there are those handful of films that are impossible to find online. I've still managed to find many of them on videotapes or DVDs with many other short films. I usually like to watch the other shorts, because they may be more interesting than the ones that were actually nominated. Nowhere is this more evident than in this film, the next entry into our series of great short films that were not nominated. (Although to be honest I did link to three other great films that were not nominated since the last entry. See if you can find them.)

The film today stems from trying to find an Oscar nominated film that I will review a couple of months from now: Michael Mills's A History of the World in Three Minutes Flat. For the longest time I could never find it online (and I still can't.) In the end I found a website that said the short was on a videotape produced by ASIFA-Canada called 100% Independent, a collection of 17 independent short films from animators around Canada. (Yes, it is our neighbor up north again.) I looked around for the tape and eventually found a copy. I ponied up the $50 to buy it and soon it came arriving at my door. Luckily the Oscar nominated short was the first on the tape, and I watched that. (I'll review it later when the time comes.) It really was only three minutes long, so once it ended I decided to watch the other 16 shorts. Some of them were good, others were not so much. However, there was one film near the end that really impressed me. This is the film that you are about to see.

It is a beautiful spring day in the farm, and the prize-winning hog farmer is sharpening his knife for the upcoming pig contest while the preserved heads of the previous champions hang proudly on his wall. One of the pig sees this and instantly associates this with certain death. Terrified, he runs towards his friend and tells them the news. However, the friend is not impressed and takes a nap. While his friend is sleeping away, the first pig comes up with a brilliant plan. He decides to make his friend the champion to be. He sets about this goal by giving his friend a lot of good food to eat, while trying to work off the pounds that he accumulated himself. As the days go on he becomes more and more fit while his friend become larger and larger. It seems like the perfect plan, or is it?

The video included a screenshot of each of the shorts, and the picture for Oink featured a pig wearing a tuxedo carrying a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. It didn't seem appealing to me at all. However, my first impression went out the window as soon as the film started. It began with a catchy little jingle while a pig cavorts with the opening credits, burping out the name of director and animator Alain Dion. And it only got better from there. As I said some time before, I like dark comedy, and in spite of the catchy little tune, they don't get much darker than Oink*. The threat of death hangs over the two pigs as soon as the film opens, making the delightfully devious little scheme of the first pig so much more urgent. Of course, Dion does offer some conventional humor in the execution of the pig's plan. In force feeding his friend, he begins with some standard foods like hamburgers and hot dogs and spaghetti. But as the friend gets fatter, the things he eats becomes crazier and crazier. And then there's the ending. There are many things I can say to describe it, but I don't want to spoil it, so all I'll say is that it's great, and wraps up the short in a satisfying way. The animation itself is simple, appearing as pencil drawings on a white background. Of course, this being a one man animation production, I'm sure it took a lot more work than it seemed on the surface. Naturally, there is barely any background to speak of, only the principal players. The pigs themselves have a rather appealing design, appearing kind of cute in their chubbiness. And Dion has managed to fit in some nifty transitions.

Anyways, enough blabbering from me. Maybe you should just watch it and see for yourself.

*Okay, maybe this Spanish film from 2009 is darker. I'd call it the darkest piece of animation I've ever seen.


  1. Thank you so much for your blog entry about my student film! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    1. OH YEAH! I guess I forgot I had this tape too and saw your film long before finding you on YouTube, Aldi! It just didn't occur to me!

  2. Nice to see you had "100% Independent" as well Leon! I had that tape for years but forgot Alain Dion's film was on there (only having discovered his work c/o YouTube. I do think he has a lot of potential though he fell out of animation entirely after his student days I noticed. He could certainly do wonders in the digital age if he gets around to trying it again.

    Of course the one film on the set I enjoyed if only for the weirdness of it was George Ungar's "Cosmic Seed".