Zoom and Bored

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 13, 2015

How about these fanciful, impossible topographies? Turn the sound down, resist character identification, and the roadrunner cartoons become impressive exercises in visual abstraction, in the relations between lines and shapes and the illusion of reality, or, as previously mentioned, in pure trajectory and velocity. A thought: this isn’t just the story of a gray-flannel suit, or the life of a 50’s corporation man. This is life in the food chain. Sustenance is all and only. It’s not just appetite (consumerism) either. They’re talking about basic, primordial subsistence. Someone should write a book about this stuff!

The brick wall section gives us a great new wrinkle on the Grouch/Harpo mirror routine from Duck Soup (Max Linder, etc.). But this time it’s no longer a mirror. Rather, this is animation’s simultaneous cruel nightmarishness/exhilarating bursting of the bounds. Everything is theoretically possible, even if the end, in each instance, is oblivion. A fifth of bumble bees—they go straight for him. Very satisfying! It’s kind of like a musical cadence in the common practice period, isn’t it?

Here’s nother one of his catapults. The Ahab Harpoon Gun! I’m going to have to mention this again. This gag goes Bully for Bugs one better. More than that, actually—there are fourteen parts to this one, including a false ending after the tenth. Miraculously, at the end the Coyote lands on his feet, un, or at least post-scathed. Another merciful ending: the roadrunner doesn’t have the heart to startle him into another, mercilessly unfatal plummet. See? They are too appropriate for your children!