A Year in Shorts Day 132: "Automania 2000"
They say all art is political, and I’m inclined to agree. Just look at the shorts we’ve covered so far; they all express a point of view of some kind, even if some may be a little more subtle about it than the others. But some shorts say to hell with subtlety, for better or for worse. John Halas’ Automania 2000 is one of those shorts.
Released in 1963, the short Automania 2000 can most readily be compared to is What on Earth! Like that short, it is an animated mockumentary (this time made by Earthlings instead of Martians). Like that short, it is a satire on consumer culture, primarily focused on cars. Unlike that short, Automania 2000 is British. One wonders if this film got a lot of play on British television back in the day, as it bears a striking similarity to an episode of modern Doctor Who, as you can see below. (Be warned that the film does contain some flashing images).
Much of what I can say about Automania 2000 would be a repeat of what I said about What on Earth! The best thing this short has going for it is the animation, which is simple in a very pleasing way. It's very flat and limited, but there's a charm to that that I love. It reminds me of Rocky & Bullwinkle, so much so that I had to make sure that John Halas wasn't an animator on that show. He wasn't, but he did work on Heavy Metal, that movie that's really popular with people much cooler than me.
As for the rest of the film, it's perfectly fine. Like What on Earth!, the film is more clever than it is funny, and once again it's really too long for its thin premise. At the end of the day I think I like this short slightly better (there's less padding and the visuals on the whole are more creative), but the two shorts really are similar in every way, including quality. Neither are great movies, but both are definitely worth a watch.
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