A Year in Shorts Day 37: "Moonbird"
Regular readers of this blog should be familiar with the name John Hubley. We’ve already covered two of his shorts on here, and we’ll be covering him a lot more I can assure you. Although Hubley got his start working for Disney and UPA, he’s probably best known for the independent shorts he made with his wife, Faith. Today’s short, Moonbird, is notable for being the first independently produced animated short to win an Oscar. Is it notable for anything else? Well, let’s find out.
Released in 1959, Moonbird is certainly an interesting short. John and Faith Hubley secretly recorded their sons, Mark and Ray, playing together, and then animated a story to go along with their dialogue. Because why have children if you can't exploit them for artistic purposes?
I kid, of course. Moonbird is a fairly cute short, but I'd be lying if I said I liked it very much. I wonder if your enjoyment of this short is dependent on how easily charmed you are by children. I certainly don't hate children, but I'm not automatically won over by their tendency to say the darnedest things either. Combined with the intentionally simplistic, scratchy animation and a ten minute run time, I just don't think it works. Not for me at least.
To be fair, the concept of this short has been done elsewhere, and done better. The Hubleys themselves received another Oscar nomination for a very similar short in 1968 with A Windy Day. But this short just doesn't quite come together for me. Still, it's worth a watch, and it's nice to celebrate a win for the little guys every once in a while.
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