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TV & Film

Fantasy/Animation

Updated 2 days ago

TV & Film
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Christopher Holliday researches animation history and digital media at King's College London (UK). Alexander Sergeant is a Lecturer in Film and Media Studies at University of Portsmouth (UK), specialising in the history and theory of fantasy cinema. Each episode, they look in detail at a film or television show, taking listeners on a journey through the intersection between fantasy cinema and the medium of animation.

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Christopher Holliday researches animation history and digital media at King's College London (UK). Alexander Sergeant is a Lecturer in Film and Media Studies at University of Portsmouth (UK), specialising in the history and theory of fantasy cinema. Each episode, they look in detail at a film or television show, taking listeners on a journey through the intersection between fantasy cinema and the medium of animation.

Best weekly hand curated episodes for learning

Cover image of Fantasy/Animation

Fantasy/Animation

Latest release on Jan 18, 2021

Best weekly hand curated episodes for learning

All 65 episodes from oldest to newest

Inception (2010) (with Todd McGowan)

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Are we dreaming, or are we awake? How do we choose which realities to believe in? What levels of fictionality count? Find out in Episode 65, which works its way through the dream logic and desires of Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010), a film that probes deep into our unconscious to revel in how dreams allow us to participate in a shared fantasy. Joining Chris and Alex as they kick back through the layers of Inception’s rhizomatic, mazelike structure is Todd McGowan Professor of Film Studies in the Film and Television Studies Department at the University of Vermont, and author of a number of books on psychoanalytic film theory, film comedy and popular media, including The Real Gaze: Film Theory after Lacan (2007) and The Fictional Christopher Nolan (2012). Topics for discussion include Christopher Nolan’s pre-occupation with revelation as a narrative device; how Inception’s interweaving, puzzling plotlines demonstrate trends towards complex narration by showing how beginnings can be constituted by the end; Nolan’s relationship with practical effects traditions, and the interplay between visual effects and the diegetic coherency of a fantasy world; why Inception is a rich film for thinking about what we want from visual effects, and what we desire of spectacular computer-generated imagery; spectatorial investments in social reality (as fictionality) and its application of “timespaces”; and the status of Inception as a broader metaphor for cinema going.

Jan 18 2021

1hr 14mins

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Captain Marvel (2019) (with Trixter VFX Studio)

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2021 kicks off with a supersonic bang as Chris and Alex return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to explore the world of Kree Empires, alien shapeshifters, flerkens, and digital de-aging in American superhero feature Captain Marvel (Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, 2019), based on the celebrated Marvel Comics character. Joining them for a discussion of Hollywood special effects production and the labour of fantastical imagery are the film’s VFX Producer Christine Neumann and VFX Supervisor Dominik Zimmerle of German visual effects studio Trixter based in Munich, whose work also includes a number of Hollywood blockbusters and other MCU entries Spider-Man: Homecoming (Jon Watts, 2017), Thor: Ragnarok (Taika Waititi, 2017), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (James Gunn, 2017), Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018) and the upcoming Black Widow (Cate Shortland, 2021). Topics for discussion in Episode 64 include the industrial relationships between Marvel Studios and its VFX vendors; the splintering of effects workflow into elements of animation, camera/layout, simulation, body dynamics, lighting, pre-visualisation, rigging and compositing; what goes into the creation of digital assets/artefacts, and the challenges in Captain Marvel of replicating everyday or domestic spaces and objects; taste cultures and connoisseurship in contemporary VFX spectatorship; the vital role of controlled lighting environments and virtual camerawork in the design of pristine effects imagery; and the distinctions between a ‘photorealistic’ and a ‘caricatured’ cat.

Jan 04 2021

1hr 5mins

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Animated Christmas Adverts (1951-2018) (with Malcolm Cook)

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The Christmas spirit is finally in the air, with Chris and Alex using Episode 63 of the podcast as their annual opportunity to discuss all things seasonal - this time examining the fantasy of Christmas advertising, and the repeated role played by animation in the construction of festive commercials, television ads and brand promotions. They are joined in their Yuletide deliberations by Dr Malcolm Cook, Associate Professor in Film Studies (University of Southampton), whose numerous publications include the monograph Early British Animation: From Page and Stage to Cinema Screens (2018) and the co-edited collection (with Professor Kirsten Moana Thompson) Animation and Advertising (2019). Listen as they discuss the style and form of the following selection of Christmas-themed animated advertisements: Lotte Reiniger’s “Christmas is Coming” (1951) made in collaboration with the General Post Office (GPO) informing audiences about the last postal dates; “The Flintstones - Cocoa Pebbles” (1985) that provides a playful prehistoric retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol; the stargazing and fizzy drink-loving marine mammals of Coca-Cola’s “Polar Bears (Northern Lights)” (1993); the mixed media John Lewis advert “The Bear and The Hare” (2013) influenced by the sentimentality of Disney’s animated animals; Cartier’s 2016 luxurious offering titled “Winter Tale” replete with spectacular digital effects; and Hershey’s recent musical commercial “Heartwarming the World (Play the Kisses)” (2018) set to the tune of We Wish You a Merry Christmas. Topics include the entwined historical and formal exchange between the animation and advertising industries; the role of desire, enchantment and the magical-making quality of Christmas-as-fantasy (including thematic connections to the “film blanc”); the challenges of archiving animated advertising and its many pioneers; the value of analysing animation’s place within a variety of popular cultural experiences; the politics of audiovisual capitalist consumption and the business of Christmas; and the ways in which global brands historically lean in and out of the festive period through highly-animated commercial enterprises.

Dec 07 2020

1hr 25mins

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James Bond Title Sequences (1962-2015) (with Ed Lamberti) (Part 2)

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The names Bond…James Bond in Episodes 61 and 62, as Chris and Alex tackle the official Eon James Bond 007 film series by casting their eyes over a longstanding staple of the franchise - the celebrated credits sequences. Beginning with Dr. No (Terence Young, 1962) and culminating in Spectre (Sam Mendes, 2015), listen as they place in rank order their ‘Top 24’ title sequences, judging their audiovisual spectacle, structural elements and broader connections to traditions in animated fantasy (Part 1 focuses on Bond films #24 to #13, while Part 2 counts down from #12 to their #1 ranked 007 title sequence). Joining them for this extended double-header is Dr. Ed Lamberti, an independent researcher in Film Studies who has been a teaching assistant at King's College London, a screenwriting mentor at the London Film School, and who is currently Policy Manager at the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). In 2019, Ed published his monograph Performing Ethics through Film Style, which discusses the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas alongside films directed by the Dardenne Brothers, Barbet Schroeder and Paul Schrader. He is also the editor of Behind the Scenes at the BBFC: Film Classification from the Silver Screen to the Digital Age (2012), and the assistant editor of the upcoming V. F. Perkins on Movies: Collected Shorter Film Criticism (2020). Listen as the trio examine elements of design, movement, rhythm and pacing in the Bond titles; the gendered imaginaries and Anglophonic fantasies of race that support the sequences’ progress of imagery; authorial figures such as Maurice Binder, Robert Brownjohn, and Daniel Kleinman; questions of coherency and the relation between image and soundtrack; and the broader structural role of the credits across the Bond series. Quite simply, nobody does it better.

Nov 23 2020

1hr 12mins

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James Bond Title Sequences (1962-2015) (with Ed Lamberti) (Part 1)

Podcast cover
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The names Bond…James Bond in Episodes 61 and 62, as Chris and Alex tackle the official Eon James Bond 007 film series by casting their eyes over a longstanding staple of the franchise - the celebrated credits sequences. Beginning with Dr. No (Terence Young, 1962) and culminating in Spectre (Sam Mendes, 2015), listen as they place in rank order their ‘Top 24’ title sequences, judging their audiovisual spectacle, structural elements and broader connections to traditions in animated fantasy (Part 1 focuses on Bond films #24 to #13, while Part 2 counts down from #12 to their #1 ranked 007 title sequence). Joining them for this extended double-header is Dr. Ed Lamberti, an independent researcher in Film Studies who has been a teaching assistant at King's College London, a screenwriting mentor at the London Film School, and who is currently Policy Manager at the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). In 2019, Ed published his monograph Performing Ethics through Film Style, which discusses the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas alongside films directed by the Dardenne Brothers, Barbet Schroeder and Paul Schrader. He is also the editor of Behind the Scenes at the BBFC: Film Classification from the Silver Screen to the Digital Age (2012), and the assistant editor of the upcoming V. F. Perkins on Movies: Collected Shorter Film Criticism (2020). Listen as the trio examine elements of design, movement, rhythm and pacing in the Bond titles; the gendered imaginaries and Anglophonic fantasies of race that support the sequences’ progress of imagery; authorial figures such as Maurice Binder, Robert Brownjohn, and Daniel Kleinman; questions of coherency and the relation between image and soundtrack; and the broader structural role of the credits across the Bond series. Quite simply, nobody does it better.

Nov 23 2020

1hr 25mins

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Christopher Robin (Marc Forster, 2018)

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Heffalumps and Woozles take centre stage for Episode 60 of the podcast, as Chris and Alex take a trip deep into Hundred Acre Wood to confront Christopher Robin (Marc Forster, 2018) (not to be confused with the earlier A.A. Milne biography Goodbye Christopher Robin [Simon Curtis, 2017]…), and its pleasures of nostalgia. For this latest Listeners’ Choice, they discuss the role of illustration and illusionism in relation to Disney’s earlier Winnie the Pooh animated adaptations; how imagination and impossibility manages the film’s treatment of childhood fantasies, and the extent to which this is mirrored in elements of Christopher Robin’s digital/analogue production; the politics of niceness and the film’s gestures to a Trump-era “nicecore” cinema that delights in kindness and the intrinsic value of ‘being good’; the construction of a malleable, fluid virtual urban space to form bricolage architecture (particularly in its CG portrayal of postwar London); what Christopher Robin has to say about coming back to family, returning home, and simply seeing the world differently; and how doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something.

Nov 09 2020

1hr 17mins

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Sherlock Jr. (1924) (with Peter Adamson)

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Episode 59 heralds Chris and Alex’s first foray into silent film comedy via the work of performer Buster Keaton, looking at his feature Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton, 1924) that celebrates the dreams and psychology of a movie theatre projectionist. Joining them as the lights go down is Peter Adamson, Professor of Late Ancient and Arabic Philosophy at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Münich and King's College London, and host of the successful History of Philosophy without any gaps podcast that examines the “ideas, lives and historical context” of both major philosophers and more lesser-known figures. From Buster Keaton’s gag structures to the unruliness and absurdity of early nickelodeon audiences, this episode of the Fantasy/Animation podcast covers distinctions between theatrical vaudeville performance and the ‘staging’ of action afforded by the film medium; how Sherlock Jr. relates to classical film theory’s post-romantic emphasis on dreams and psychology to explain the emotion and aesthetic experience of moviegoing; experiments with editing and the power of the ’cut’ in Keaton’s comedy; the cyclical arrangement of comic narrative structures; Keaton’s expressive relationship to both silent-era animation stars (such as Felix the Cat) and the sentimentality of contemporaries like Charlie Chaplin; and how Sherlock Jr. offers the potential to think through the division between ‘film philosophy’ and ‘philosophical cinema.’

Oct 26 2020

1hr 13mins

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Roobarb (and Custard) (1974) (with Birgitta Hosea)

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The anarchy and artistry of British television animation provides the springboard for Episode 58 of the Fantasy/Animation podcast, which welcomes London-based media artist, animator and curator Professor Birgitta Hosea (who is also the Director of the Animation Research Centre at the University for the Creative Arts) to talk about Roobarb (Grange Calveley, 1974) directed by English animator Bob Godfrey. Godfrey’s particular connections to the UCA (he established the Animation course at the university back in 1969) were the subject of the recent Cartoon Animation - Satire and Subversion event earlier this year that examined the animated medium’s more radical histories through Godfrey’s surrealistic and pointed creations. For this episode, listen as Chris and Alex join with Birgitta to identify Godfrey’s particular relationship to political cartoons in Britain, notwithstanding his marginal and underrated status within animation history. Other topics include the honesty and transformative energy of cel-animation embodied in the programme’s streaky, “boiling” aesthetic; the importance of white cartoon space within the visual style of Roobarb, and how this connects to traditions of overdetermining/underdetermining with fantasy storytelling; questions of imperfection in relation to the very technology of drawing; the power of Richard Briers’ voiceover and anthropomorphic characterisation; and what Calveley’s cartoon tells us about the way self-reflexivity can - and does - operate in the animated fantasy.

***To donate to The Bob Godfrey Collection, please click here***

Oct 12 2020

1hr 11mins

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Rango (2011) (with Neil Brand)

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Performer, composer, silent film accompanist and television presenter Neil Brand is the special guest joining Chris and Alex for Episode 57 of the podcast, which celebrates the musical beats and Mariachi owls of Rango (Gore Verbinski, 2011). Listen as they discuss how this curious 2011 computer-animated film revels in the power of telling tales alongside its broader relationship to folk ballads; Rango’s cinephilic evocation of canonical Hollywood Westerns and U.S. cinema history; themes of ambition, isolation, and aimlessness, and how this ties into a film whose existentialist narrative is predicated on the question of inevitability; Rango’s musical score that functions as a bridge between landscape and character; and what Gore Verbinski’s film tells us about what audiences might want from contemporary fantasy/animation (namely highly sophisticated anarchy rather than structures that organise, and a fantasy better realised onscreen that we can ever imagine!).

Sep 28 2020

1hr 22mins

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Bright (David Ayer, 2017)

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The latest Listeners’ Choice episode sees Chris and Alex turn to Netflix and the much-maligned yet curiously provocative feature film Bright (David Ayer, 2017), whose narrative of racism, police corruption and latent magical forces is set against the backdrop of an alternate fantasy vision of contemporary Los Angeles. With a budget of $90 million, Ayer’s social discourse via fantasy (the script was written by Max Landis) was critically-derided despite being Netflix’s most downloaded feature within its first week of release. There is certainly much to say about Bright’s heavy use of metaphor that points a number of fingers at systemic violence and racial hegemony through themes of respect, tolerance and acceptance. Listen as the discussion in Episode 56 takes in Bright’s evocation of Hollywood buddy movie story structures and the popular police procedural; categories of the fantastic, the allegoric and the parodic, and how allegory functions as a deconstructive impulse against fantasy’s pursuit of reconstruction; the depiction of Elftown and the film’s portrayal of whiteness; Orc clan politics, Will Smith’s racial coding and the role of the Other; and how Bright offers a complicated - and, at times, highly uneven - possible world that presents its modern urban fantasy setting as a social class commentary.

Sep 14 2020

1hr 13mins

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