Great Movies V

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Village of Idiots

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 2, 2015

A near anthology of animation techniques, utilized as much to interrupt illusion and identification as to tell the story. That part is wonderfully done. And the story ends up being equal to the wealth of visuals. The balance is terrific. This is a Chelm story, a shaggy folk tale without apparent pretensions. Unpretentious, but with a local/ethnic particularity that rises to the level of universality.

The inciting gag that leaves our protagonist so existentially confused is excellent. It’s very well developed, and in the development moves smoothly from comedy, right to philosophy. Is this providence, or meaninglessness? The foolish human subject is pretty well always going to be inadequate to the answering of that question. The film isn’t, though. This Village is full of petulant, marginally unattractive knuckleheads. But they’re drawn tenderly, worthy of sympathy, even heirs to a kind of Jewish grace (if you’ll allow the conceit).

Key thing: Hollywood is justly considered to be a repository of the world’s back stories, and its processed aspirations. Hollywood applies lots of moonshine, sometimes unto nonsense. The roots are effaced, the fingerprints filed down, the clean-up sometimes equivalent to emasculation or even evisceration. Still, how universal, how something-for-everyone! Hooray for Hollywood, within reason and always retaining our sense of perspective!

Then there’s the National Film Board of Canada, which after all these years appears to have actually done megalithic Hollywood one or two better. With all of this chronology and geography, with all these accents, these vivid tiles in the mosaic, this repository is full of the real, unvarnished thing. The Board is no longer just representing Canada to Canadians. It’s an immigrant nation, chronicled by this subsidized, commerce-protected institution, speaking to and for the entire world. Enormity …

… accessibly!