Pedro Serrazina – Narrative Space: From Ozu to Paul Driessen and Raimund Krumme

Halfway through the short film David (Driessen, 1977), the audience faces an empty screen. For over two minutes of the total of nine, we are left to stare at an empty rectangle painted in faded yellow, while David, an invisible character, addresses the audience. Rather than doing what animators love the most (and are taught to do), for several moments Dutch animator/director Paul Driessen (1940- ) does not make anything move on the screen, he does not do the often referred-to magical “bringing to life,” which sits at the core of most definitions of animation. He does not need to.

Yet, something lives within that screen, someone breathes and talks to us. The eponymous David is in fact, in his own words, “very small;” so much so that we cannot see him (see Figure 1). To guide our view through the empty screen he says,
“I’ll show you something to let you know where I am… Did you see that? Took off my hat and let the wind blow through my hair, nice and long, hey?!”

Moments later, David continues,
“Look: spotlight on your back makes a great long shadow, even for a tiny little character like me, yeah!”

 

 

 

 

Figure 1: David showing us his hair (left) and shadow, with a spotlight on his back (right)

Without the usual tools, or the traditional character design, Driessen still manages to bring David to life. In this magical moment, the audience is enthralled by the empty screen, imagining the absent character, hanging on his words and visual details. Such moments accomplish multiple narrative functions within the film: they place our wandering gaze upon the frame and, through the characterization of the space he occupies, introduces the character himself.

The construction of animated space is an act that can happen even when, as in David, there is hardly any animation at all on the screen: the empty frame is the matter; the space that animation and animators need to conquer and cast every single time they are at work. Edward Branigan frames this process, claiming that “one of [cinema’s] narrative acts is the creation of space” (Branigan 1976, p. 103).

The animated films of both Paul Driessen and Raimund Krumme (1950, Germany) are films wherein space is not only created as a narrative act but becomes a main character in itself. In their films, the construction and use of animated space challenge our perceptions and the expectations defined by the classical cinematic modes of representation: they construct a visual world where the frame is liberated from the dominance of the character (see Figure 2).

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 2: The narrative spaces of Driessen (On Land at Sea and on the Air, 1980, and The End of the World in 4 Seasons, 1995), and Krumme (Crossroads, 1991 and Ropedance, 1986).

This article aims to exemplify how these short animated films create meaning and generate what Stephen Heath calls “narrative space” (Heath 1981, 19-75) within a context of film theory that analyses how Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu constructs his own cinematographic space.

The goal is to identify the construction of narrative space through a sustained critical examination of animated films that have influenced my own work, and to contribute to a reassessment of the potential of the animated, morphing space within animation practice.

Coming to animation with a background in Architecture, which emphasised the importance of sketching and observational drawing, I have retained a hand-drawn process similar to the one employed in the animated films I discuss here. The traditional drawn animation approach allowed me to transfer some skills, but with an extra advantage: the possibility of manipulating and morphing all the elements in the frame (See Figure 3).

 

 

 

 

Figure. 3: Tale about the Cat and the Moon (1995), Pedro Serrazina

From architecture to animated film, the screen allowed my spatial constructions to be developed without physical, social and financial constraints. This idealistic view of the animator as a godlike creator is often remarked upon among animators. Yet, the apparently simple “power” of creating a world from scratch is not often addressed in terms of what it can suggest and/or question when it proposes something beyond the spatial rules imposed by the physical world: the ability to manipulate and distort projected spaces, is often perceived as an (almost) inevitable quality of the art form, framed within the entertainment value that animation often provides. Yet, as the work of Driessen and Krumme (and Ozu) clearly exemplify, the potential for visual commentary that cinematic space (animated or not) contains can be found in multiple ways, from a narrative complement that adds much more to a film than a simple background support, to reflecting a whole cultural framework (as with Ozu’s spatial representations of Japanese architecture and philosophy).

The implications of animated spaces like these, that shape, transform the whole, or substantial parts of the frame, to add layers of meaning and/or push the narrative forward, still have much to offer us in terms of research and practice.

Space as a narrative construction

The process of making a film is a spatial one – not only films represent and record events taking place in space but, within their own construction, they need a constant articulation of spatial units, from each shot to the next. Cinema is, as Branigan suggested when analysing the work of Ozu, “a construction that happens at 24 frames per second” (Branigan 1976, p. 104). In this sense, Branigan implies a constant rearrangement of the frame and the elements it contains, to construct a sense of continuity between shots that allows the audience to read each film not as a sequence of fragments, but as a whole, continuous experience.

Stephen Heath’s argument in “Narrative Space” is congruent with Branigan’s, when he claims the movement from shot to shot confirms “the filmic nature of film space” and proposes that film is the constant “construction of a space” (Heath 1981, p. 32). The idea of permanent construction applies to cinema in general, but more specifically, to animation, where there is both the shot (as a potential composition-unit of editing), but also the elements that appear on the screen, which are a total frame-by-frame creation. This creation is simultaneously a spatial and narrative act. But, while defining narrative space, Heath identified a problem, that movement, the movement of life coming into the screen in classical narrative cinema, “brings with it […] problems of composition,” as it forces the organization of “the frame in function of the human figures in their actions” (Heath 1981, p. 36).

Heath thus suggests that “what enters cinema is a logic of movement and it is this logic that centres the frame” (p.36) around the characters, leading him to conclude that the compositional problem posed by movement in classical cinema is solved by the narrative. Narrative, Heath goes on to argue, “contains [‘controls’] the mobility that could threaten the clarity of vision” due to the constant change of perspective from shot to shot. In other words, despite the changes caused by editing, we understand film because narrative gives it coherence. Through this process, he concludes, “frame space […] is constructed as narrative space” (p. 36).

In this vein, additional scholars have opened up the spatial debate in animation; for example, Animating Space (2010) by J. P. Telotte, reflects on and relates the cultural implications of animated space, but focuses mainly on mainstream Hollywood animation with little on the formal aspects or the practices that challenge or pose alternatives to those mainstream modes of representation. Aylish Wood, in “Re-Animating Space” (2006), claims that “in many animations space is caught in the act of changing, making it a form of cinema especially relevant to thinking about experiences of spatial transformation” (p. 134).

The notion of transformation as a result of animated movement on the screen becomes crucial – unlike the usual conventions within cinematic discourse which examine spatial organization and consider its role as supporting the character and narrative, I subscribe to Wood’s view of “space as entity in itself” (p.134). Space as its own entity in animation makes the work of Driessen and Krumme relevant in this context, particularly when considering the links between mainstream Hollywood, Disney films, and Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu.

Hollywood, Disney and Ozu

In “Space and Narrative in the Films of Ozu” (1976), Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell use the classical Hollywood paradigm as a reference against which to compare Ozu’s film work. Despite Ozu being Japanese, they nonetheless employ the Hollywood paradigm because, they propose, “it coincides intuitively with our familiar sense of what ‘a film’ is.” This paradigm, they continue, “has been codified by many practitioners [… and its style] has, historically, become a “pervasive ‘ordinary usage’ of the cinema” (Thompson & Bordwell 1976, p. 41). The dominance of the Hollywood narrative style is highly visible even today; and arguably in animation, the framework can be readily identified in the work of the Walt Disney studios. Disney’s system follows, among others, the continuity style and the 180 degrees rule “subordinating space” (Bordwell, Staiger & Thompson 1999, p. 50) to the ongoing “cause and effect chain of the narrative” (Thompson & Bordwell 1976, p. 43). Using well-known and easily available films like Plane Crazy (1928), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Bambi (1942) as a point of reference, we can trace the evolution of early Disney’s spatial construction, from the early plasmatic space that fascinated Sergei Eisenstein, (where every line and shape was “alive” and moving), to a character-centred, realistic space that, at times, looks hyper-real.

Paul Wells frames this evolution and its technologic context neatly, noting that “Disney’s use of the multi-plane camera, for example […] in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Hand, 1937), became a vehicle not merely to offer depth perspective and relative motion, but to vindicate the presence of the characters […] as if they were real, and occupied real space” (2011, p. 135). However, rather than chasing the reality effect or a character-centred space, what I find interesting are the other approaches: the alternative versions to the classical cinematic space, the other, as Noel Burch called them, “spatial and temporal articulations”, and his praise for disorientation as one of the film makers’ “most valuable tools” (Burch 1973, p. 10). In his keynote address for the 2016 Society for Animation Studies (SAS) conference at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Ulrich Wegenast called these alternate versions an “irritating space:” the space of disorientation, a space that does not conform, and claimed that “from the beginning of animated film, animators have become producers of space.”

Wegenast has highlighted Krumme’s work (among others), asserting that “the importance of space concepts shouldn’t be undervalued. More than in other filmic formats the creation of space itself is a constitutional element and part of the artistic process of animation production” (2016, p. 22). In accordance with Wegenast, we can similarly examine Driessen and Krumme as major references for alternative practices, taking up an Ozu-like position within animation, in contrast to Hollywood and Disney (see Figure 4).

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 4: Ropedance (1986): Raimund Krumme’s total space

Thompson and Bordwell argue that “seen against the background of the classical paradigm, the modernity of Ozu’s work involves the use of specific spatial devices which challenge the supremacy of narrative causality” (Thompson & Bordwell 1976, p. 42). Through their analysis of his work they identified four specific spatial cues involved in the construction of Ozu’s cinematographic space: intermediate spaces, the use of a 360 degree shooting space, the use of what they called the hypersituated object, and graphic configurations.

Intermediate spaces constitute the spaces that appear in shots of landscapes, empty rooms and actionless spaces between scenes of characters’ actions. They are not to be confused with conventional establishing shots; they are instead “spaces between points of narrative actions” (Thompson & Bordwell 1976, p. 46-55). Although still usually related to the narrative, they are not solely motivated by it.

The use of a 360 degree shooting space is one of the main characteristics of Ozu’s cinema, a complex but much richer spatial construction, particularly when contrasted with spatial relations presented by classical Hollywood cinema which is largely limited to adherence to the 180 degree rule. (Thompson & Bordwell 1976, p. 55-64).

Arguably the least relevant of these criteria to our case studies, the hypersituated object refers to objects in Ozu’s films being, to a large extent, “pure spatial elements divorced from function;” unlike in the classical paradigm, where objects are related to and help identifying characters as traits or props (Thompson & Bordwell 1976, p. 64-66).

Finally, Thompson and Bordwell establish that graphic configurations take on a major structuring role in the Japanese director’s films: often the only orientating factor in a cut from one shot to another is the resulting juxtaposition of pictorial elements. “Such graphic play,” they claim, “is central to Ozu’s modernity because the screen surface itself and the configurations that traverse it are treated as independent of the scenographic space of the narrative” (Thompson & Bordwell 1976, p. 66-70).

Ozu’s separation between screen as surface space and the scenographic space within it is at the core of a fundamental practical and conceptual choice, one that defines and brings a spatial dimension to the cinema and, specifically, to the animation practice. The understanding of this ontological split allows us to explore the potential of space in animation beyond the role of supporting background to character-centred action. Exploring this split opens up the whole of the image, frame included, and not merely its compositional elements (“the configurations that traverse it”, as Thompson and Bordwell call it), as a pluri-dimensional unit that can be charged with meaning and read in multiple layers.

In a complementary article published in the same 1976 issue of Screen magazine as Thompson & Bordwell, Branigan analyses the spaces of Ozu’s Equinox Flower (1958) and proposes six criteria to help define the poetry of his style: shot scale, reframing (incremental shot variations), editing (camera set-up), spatial articulations, graphic space and the spatial code (p. 74-105).

While some of Branigan’s criteria are specific to live action film, it is clear we can immediately identify others that are relevant to our understanding of space in animation – the play with shot scale, the spatial articulations, the use of the screen as a total graphic space – are all essential tools for animation practice. It is the manner in which they are used on the screen that defines if an active, animated space is generated, one that, beyond the traditional supporting role, intervenes in the construction of the visual narrative. Paraphrasing Gerald Mast, when not limited as a passive container, the liberated animated film frame becomes an active signifier (1984, p. 85). Such active signifiers can assist in our analysis of both Driessen and Krumme’s bodies of work.

Paul Driessen

In Driessen’s films, it is possible to identify a great variety of spatial plays that define his style of animation. In the words of Marc Glassman, Driessen “enjoys playing a game of concealment and revelation in all of his films, often by leaving objects and Figures outside the frame or covering them with darkness or something else. This absence forces the viewers to use their imagination, to create a story of their own based on the sparse information offered by the film” (2002, p. 170).

Such play with what is visible or not, and the relationship it establishes with the viewer, recalls the empathic qualities described by Graham Cairns when analysing Ozu’s work. In his excellent article comparing the construction of cinematic space in the films of both Renoir and Ozu, the author establishes how both directors’ oeuvre reflects and preserves the cultural traditions in which they are embedded. Referring to the pictorial tradition of Japanese landscapes, Cairns explains that

any landscape painting […] is actually a painting of spiritual forces and not simply a representation of the natural environment [. …] This deliberate abstraction, or ambiguity, can thus be seen as an incomplete physical representation that viewers are invited to complete for themselves. However, the aim is not that the viewer completes the physical image in their mind, but rather, that they use the ambiguous physical representation […] to intuitively ‘feel’ the intangible forces or spirits beyond. […] What we have is an aesthetic tradition intrinsically linked to an aim that Engel defines as “leaving space for the intuition of the spectator,” a notion known as empathy (2013, p. 256-7, emphasis mine).

Within this conceptual framework, empathic qualities are, arguably, a main requirement and essential part of the viewing experience of films such as the aforementioned David, in which both space and character are obscured from the viewer. This empathetic style and approach, Cairns argues, goes against the “Western representative tradition developed since the Renaissance, according to which the artist attempts to reproduce the reality of the world as seen with the greatest fidelity possible” (p. 256-7). But while live action deals with the depiction of (mainly) realistic space and architecture, the animated film plays with the imaginary, the intangible interpretation and (re)creation of space. Throughout Driessen’s work, we find examples of this play that involves and invites the viewer to establish a relationship with the screen that goes beyond passive observation and requires active participation and intuition.

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 5: Paul Driessen, The Writer (1988).

Driessen’s style is characterised by the use of split-screens, a variation of what Thompson and Bordwell name as intermediate spaces. During The Writer (1988), for example, there are several moments wherein little screens appear suddenly, within the main screen (See Figure 5 above). Akin to snapshots of the main action, these brief visual gags are, at times, complementary to the narrative, but in other occasions they establish a meta-commentary to the particular sequence.

The use of a frame within the frame reappears in The Killing of an Egg (1977); the whole film takes place in a “window” within the screen. Arguably, this is not so much the use of an intermediate space but, more evidently, a play with graphic configuration: unlike the inserted windows in The Writer, which appear suddenly and clearly break the visual flow, in this case the film starts with a defined rectangular window already in place, which makes it look like a smaller frame, a visual liberty of no consequence, like many others so typical of animated film.

Yet as the narrative unfolds, we notice that the loop in the sound effects and dialogue mirrors the visual doubling act of the window within the screen; the play with scale and the repetition of the dialogue and sound, make us aware of the structural implications and the role of this window. The film starts with the character about to eat (and break) an egg. As he starts to break the eggshell a voice is heard, complaining. The character looks bemused at first but goes on to enjoy his destructive task with gusto. Moments later a similar noise to the one produced when he first tapped the egg is heard. Confused by this, the character stands up, goes to the door to identify the noise outside and comes back with no answer. Eventually, despite his complaints (similar to the ones originally coming from the egg), the noise resumes, his house (and the whole frame) is destroyed (see Figure 6).

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 6: Paul Driessen, The Killing of an Egg (1977)

This multiplication of spaces within spaces, with the collapse first of the egg and then of the space within the window, implies an unfolding continuity and suggests the use of off-screen space, the audience space, (our space!), as the next one to be affected in this process of destruction. Visually, the dominant yellow colour of the smaller window, in the middle of the wider white screen, evokes an “egg design:” a visual confirmation of the game of doubles being played. The suggested egg on the surface of the screen mirrors the implied “egg-contained” scenographic spaces of the film.

In Oh, What a Knight (1982), we find a similar example of spatial foregrounding, when we are taken abruptly from the location of the knight’s classical quest to a busy contemporary city landscape (see Figure 7). This spatial dislocation emphasizes the eternal quest of the heroas always recurring, no matter the time or the place.

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 7: Paul Driessen, Oh, What a Knight (1982)

Such solutions introduce intermediate spaces that comment upon the story and characters, with the graphic composition opening a fracture within the diegetic space as well as drawing one within the screen surface itself. These processes disrupt the classical structure and the artifice of continuity and invisible storytelling that characterises classical film; they comment upon the storyline, create a second level of reading and, simultaneously, remind the audience of screen space as a cinematic construction.

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 8: Paul Driessen, On Land, at Sea and in the Air (1980)

On Land, at Sea and in the Air (1980) takes place in a screen divided vertically in three equal parts (see Figure 8). As Glassman describes, “Driessen uses a horizontal line as a connecting graphic element;” the screen is divided “creating three panels which show the viewer three different worlds: that of a sleeping man, a bird, and a fisherman alone with his wife in their boat out at sea” (Glassman p. 175). Within this graphic play other forces are at work – simultaneously with the small gestures and menial tasks performed by the characters, an undercurrent for a visual narrative is developing. Glassman suggests that

synchronicity and causality become hopelessly entangled. The physical space on the screen radiates a kind of inexorable, domineering force [. …] Everyday scenes acquire an unexpected, surreal dimension [. …] Paul Driessen deconstructs reality, or at least our ideas about it, and creates a new, pure, cinematographic space-time structure in which his fantasy has a free hand. The form dictates the story, as the rules do a game. (p. 177)

The division of the screen, the formal approach that constantly challenges the stable frame, is not a mere visual trope. Its structural relevance to the film(s) is further emphasized in contrast to the small events taking place on the screen. It is in the balance between the mundane actions portrayed and the unexpected visual and spatial solutions that the animated lines of Paul Driessen manage to create a very personal style of narrative space.

The visual conclusion of On Land, at Sea and in the Air is finally solved by a spatial articulation between the various parts of the screen: the lines that originally divide the surface in thirds eventually fade out, allowing the three parts to merge, the various landscapes complementing each other to form the character’s Figure in the last sequence of the film (see last image of Figure 8).

A similar strategy is at work in the End of the World in Four Seasons (1995): as Glassman describes, the film “is divided in two ways, by seasonal chapter headings, and on the screen. Using Vivaldi’s famed Four Seasons to announce each chapter, Paul Driessen sets up a framework in which eight drawings are placed in three rows. Like a storyboard gone awry, the drawings are then animated” (Glassman, p. 207). Each of the four sequences evokes the atmosphere of its season, with the colour varying differently from season to season (yellow dominants for autumn, blue for summer, red for winter and green for spring).

Following a similar, but rather more complex strategy than the one applied to On Land, multiple small events are spread through the split screens of The End of the World in Four Seasons, with the action occasionally crossing from one to another, and the original eight frames eventually uniting only in the final sequence (see Figure 9).

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 9: Driessen, The End of the World in 4 Seasons (1995).

The Boy Who Saw the Iceberg (2000) is also organized within a split screen, with a line dividing the screen in half. What is happening in “reality” is shown on the left and the child’s imaginative interpretation of that reality on the right. In this example, the story is again resolved as the divided screen unites and becomes one in the last (white) shot. As the narrative comes to an end, there is a simultaneous, visual and spatial, conclusion: the story is only over when the screen is once again undivided, the frame complete (see Figure 10).

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 10: Paul Driessen, The Boy who saw the Iceberg (2000).

Such graphic configurations can be found in most of Paul Driessen’s short films. A multiple usage of the screen surface is at play, generating contrasting spaces, changes of scale and point of view that expand the flatness of the screen, making these short films simultaneously a flat, but multi-layered spatial experience.

Raimund Krumme

Raimund Krumme (1940- ) is a German-born animator whose work, like Paul Driessen’s, is defined by a very personal hand-drawn line. Although he also makes use of the occasional window within the screen, it is the movement of the line and how it charges the surface of the frame with meaning that characterises Krumme’s spatial constructions. While writing about a character he was working on during a spell in Hollywood, Krumme commented on his own process:

He [Harold, the character] is perplexed by the fact that his simple drawings, sometimes turn out to be more complex than he expected; and the same drawings, looked at from another angle or dimension, are transformed into something new, with different dimensions in another spatial order. Many ideas develop from within the flow of the drawings themselves, a process I am very familiar with. (Krumme, 1996)

Ropedance (1986) and Crossroads (1991) are short, hand-drawn animation films that, on the surface, look deceptively simple and yet manage to create those other spatial orders suggested by Krumme. Both short films play “with the tension between surface and depth,” as Pam Cook has characterized Ozu’s film work (Cook 1999, p. 112) and, like with Paul Driessen, scale and graphic configurations are paramount in the style of the animation. Ropedance, a film that reflects on the relationship between father and son and their alternating dependency at different stages of their lives, makes use of the graphic frame within the frame play we have seen in Driessen’s films. In the final sequence of Ropedance, the subdivision of the screen space suggests the characters’ gradual estrangement: despite the attempt to a physical approach, they do not seem able to inhabit or even share the same visual plane anymore. The ultimate passing of the older character is represented symbolically in a very poetic and spatial way as, in the end, his own space eventually disappears altogether (see Figure 11).

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 11: Krumme, Ropedance (1986)

Crossroads (1991) opens with a single character, a man following his own free path, roaming through the edges of the screen, transposing invisible obstacles that are solely hinted by the way he is drawn and the perspective changes to suggest unseen depths and open chasms. As the man reaches the crossing referred to in the title, he hesitates. The single, solitary path divides and creates a doubt. The character is then confronted by four other men, who seem determined to interfere with his choice of direction. Ultimately, the doubt and the multiple opinions express themselves physically on the screen, at times separating the characters in multiple planes (see Figure 12).

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 12: Krumme, Crossroads (1991)

The spatial organization and stability of the frame, challenged from the beginning, is subject to constant changes of perspective throughout the film. Formally, the visuals reflect and suggest representations of misdirection, uncertainty and instability. In both examples, as in Driessen and Ozu’s films, the surface of the frame is used as a compositional element and space is clearly foregrounded. Through multiple scale and depth changes, the space is not only the set of action but it actively challenges and plays the action, sometimes becoming a structural narrative device, at other times enacting visual roles that narrate what the characters themselves seem unable to express.

Conclusion

Developed within a practice-based research context, this analysis was haunted by how relevant the use of criteria borrowed from film theory would effectively be. How would it add to animation studies in general, and to its practice in particular?

Inevitably, further criteria specific to animation, can be developed, but arguably the answer seems clear: in one way, this approach can help understand and identify the details of a practice that seems to take backgrounds essentially as decorative elements, a practice mainly concerned with the Figure and less with the surface where it moves; in another way, as an animator and director, although I do not work according to or following theoretical rules (and I believe not many of my colleagues do), this systematization can help to highlight and reinforce strategies that bring different levels of meaning to mainstream practice.

To borrow Heath’s words, this contribution “can serve as a […] reminder of the importance of a whole number of different explorations […] of space and time, narrative and place” (Heath 1981, p. 25). As Branigan did not mean “that the spatial articulations of Ozu are superior to those of classical Hollywood cinema” (Branigan 1976, p. 104), this article has no intention of claiming that Driessen’s and Krumme’s strategies are better than any other; arguably they offer “another system, one of many possible systems” (Branigan 1976, p. 105) to develop narrative strategies.

Aside from the practical questions, one of the main points of this formal exercise is the historical perspective it brings: if cinema studies in the 70s felt there was a need to highlight the spatial quality of Ozu’s films and his alternative solutions against the dominant Hollywood style, today it seems equally appropriate such an appraisal is done within animation, consequently trying to bring to the fore the work of directors that propose a practice that frees the animated movement from the constraints of the dominant, traditional visual narrative.

Importantly, against a background of media coverage that looks at animation to focus primarily on feature films, box office successes, the industry and its technological achievements, these case-studies are from authors that managed to develop an individual and unique style of animation working independently and despite those technological achievements. In their apparently simple styles and techniques, they invest animated space with meaning. As Thompson and Bordwell have commented with regard to Ozu, such approaches create “a gap between narrative and various spatial structures, and within this gap we can glimpse the work of a cinema which […] permits space to contest the primacy of the cause-effect chain” (Thompson & Bordwell 1976, p. 73).

These films and their unique solutions present us, not the space of reality, as Lumière so famously claimed at the birth of cinema, nor the construction of space subordinated to character and action, but something else that clearly transcends all the above: a total narrative space.

Such an approach, with its implied taxonomy for practice, risks being viewed as diminishing and too prescriptive. But in this case, by going back to a set of criteria taken from Screen magazine and other scholar articles, instead of restraining practice, this reflection highlights and reclaims animation, the animated space in particular, to its primal/original freedom, beyond the simple representation of movement on the screen, to represent meaning and emotion liberated from the narrative constraints of a character-centred view of the world.

With thanks to Amy Ratelle and Pierre Floquet.

Pedro Serrazina is an animation director and tutor. He received his MA in Animation Arts from the Royal College of Art. He is presently completing a PhD on the subject of animated space.

References

Bordwell (1988). Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema. London: BFI Publishing.

Bordwell, D., Staiger, J. and Thompson, K. (1999). The Classical Hollywood Cinema, Film Style & Mode of Production to 1960. London: Routledge.

Branigan, E. (1976). The Space of Equinox Flower. Screen, 17(2), pp.74-105.

Burch, N. (1973). Theory of Film Practice. London: Secker and Warburg.

Burch, N. (1979). To the Distant Observer, form and meaning in the Japanese Cinema. London: Scolar Press.

Cairns, G. (2013). The Architecture of the Screen. Bristol: Intellect.

Cook, P. and Bernink, M. (1999). The Cinema Book. London: BFI Publishing.

Cooper, M. (2002). “Narrative Spaces.” Screen, 43(2), pp.139-157.

Eisenstein, S., Leyda, J. and Upchurch, A. (1986). Eisenstein on Disney. Calcutta: Seagull Books.

Engel, H. (1964). The Japanese House : A Tradition for Contemporary Architecture. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle.

Gardies, A. (1993). L’Espace au Cinema. Paris : Editions Méridiens Klincksieck.

Glassman, M. (2002). Paul Driessen, images and reflections. Utrecht: Holland Animation Film Festival / Centre International du Cinema d’Animation.

Heath, S. (1981). Questions of cinema. London: The Macmillan Press Ltd.

Krumme, R. (1996). “The View From Hollywood.” Animation World Magazine Vol.1.7., Oct. 1996, available: http://www.awn.com/mag/issue1.7/articles/krumme1.7.html (last accessed 16-01-2017).

Mast, G. (1984). “On Framing.” Critical Inquiry, 11(1), pp.82-109.

Richie, D. (1974). Ozu: His life and films. Berkeley: University of California.

Said, E. (2003). Orientalism. London: Penguin Books.

Telotte, J. (2010). Animating Space: from Mickey to Wall-E. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky.

Thompson, K. and Bordwell, D. (1976). Space and Narrative in the Films of Ozu. Screen, 17(2), pp.41-73.

Wegenast, Ulrich (2016) in Rall, Hannes, (ed.). The Cosmos of Animation, 28th Annual Conference of the Society for Animation Studies Catalogue. Singapore: Nanyang Technological University / Garden City Publishers.

J. P. Telotte. “Animating Space: from Mickey to Wall-E.” Screen, 52(1), pp. 133-136.

Wood, A. (2006). “Re-Animating Space.” Animation, 1(2), pp.133-152.

© Pedro Serrazina

Edited by Amy Ratelle

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2 Responses to Pedro Serrazina – Narrative Space: From Ozu to Paul Driessen and Raimund Krumme

  1. Pingback: Case Studies Essay | Rebecca Rubie Level 6

  2. Stephania says:

    Great article, thank you!

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