Great Movies V

film 5 of 6

Through My Thick Glasses

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 31, 2015

I first saw this at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. (Highly recommended!) It belonged there, but boy is it a kids’ film with a difference! It’s indirect, quirky, eccentric even. It takes its time, and it’s kind of digressive at the plot level. Elusive too. Not only do you wonder where it’s going, but also what it’s getting at.

You won’t necessarily be put off by these things, in part because of some unusual and very appealing figure animation. Through My Thick Glasses is kind of a WWII picture, and it’s set in Norway. So there are some really interesting historical and cultural details too. Also, jokes. This film does a thing that picture books are good at, when they feel like doing it. The text, or in this case the narration, leads us in a certain direction. The picture illustrates the text/narration, and reinforces it too. But being so wide and deep and multiple, the picture also adds to that narrative thread. It shows us more than we are hearing. It can also contradict what we are hearing, which partly provides some fun dramatic irony—look at Pat Hutchins’ Rosie’s Walk (1968), and you’ll see another example of that. More importantly, it undermines the narration, or, in this case, opens up a place for hardship, trauma and sorrow. Equally, and most affirmatively it leads us to some wise, modest heroism that becomes quite stirring, quite moving.

On the surface Through My Thick Glasses is an unusual kids’ film because of the way it looks and the way it is structured. Deeper down it’s unusual—though not at all unprecedented, or all on its own—because of its seriousness of purpose, its expansive ambition, and its final, considerable heft. Which I guess means that it might not be a kids’ film after all. A lot of the very best movies don’t scruple to make that distinction. This one’s good for all of us.

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