A Year in Shorts Day 118: "I Met the Walrus"
One film I really like despite not really understanding it at all is Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There. A bizarre, fractured take on the music biopic, I’m Not There tells the story of Bob Dylan by analyzing six distinct points in his career, casting six distinct actors to play him and shooting in six distinct styles. Knowing far less about music than I do about movies (which regular readers of this blog will know is saying something), a lot of the movie’s subtleties and meanings are lost on me, and it’s just a film I sort of vibe with. And that’s perfectly fine! It’s just that I imagine a Bob Dylan fan would have a much more rewarding experience with it, much as a bigger Beatles fan than myself would probably take a lot more away from today’s short, I Met the Walrus.
For a multitude of reasons, Josh Raskin's I Met the Walrus is an odd duck of a film. It consists of an edited interview between producer Jerry Levitan and John Lennon, recorded in 1969 after the fourteen year old Levitan stalked John Lennon from the Toronto Airport and talked his way into his hotel room. That alone sounds like the premise for a fairly intriguing short (or maybe even a one-act play), but that mostly just serves as backdrop for the short. Instead Raskin gives us some of John Lennon's classic pontificating set to a series of trippy visuals loaded with symbolism. People who love John Lennon will probably love this film. And people like me (who are ambivalent towards him at best) will find something to like here too.
How much you get out of I Met the Walrus probably depends on how much you put into it. From my perspective it's mostly just a visually interesting way to represent an interview, and that's enough to make a good short. If you're more interested in the subject being interviewed than I am, that might make it great! If you hate weird animation, you might think this short sucks. But whatever you think about it, you can't change one thing- it didn't win the Oscar. But hey, it won a Daytime Emmy and that's not nothing!
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