Congratulations Adam Elliot – Mary & Max

Posted on 15 May 2009

I ran an animation society for seventeen years. So yes, I am mad for good quality animation. At first I was overjoyed by the upswing in animation production in recent years, fueled largely by the popularity and increasing ease in creating CGI animation. Lately I’ve been a bit dispirited by the sameness of storytelling and artistic style in many of the features being released: too much KAPOW! and not enough genuine heart. Then comes along Mary & Max.

Mary & Max is a story about an unlikely friendship that develops between Mary, a plain little girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne Australia, and Max, an overweight Jewish man with Asperger’s living in New York. Their friendship begins when Mary randomly selects Max’s address from the New York telephone book and starts to write him. Despite their outward differences they find they both share feelings of vulnerability, insecurity, and pleasure in some of the small details of life.

This film is done using the slow process of clay animation where each movement involves making a small adjustment to a clay character then photographing it, then moving it again and taking another photograph, etc, ad infinitum. Hundreds of hand done images are created a day only to produce several seconds of film. The care and artistry shows in this form of film-making. Aardman are famous for it.

What I adore about this film is how lovingly the characters and their relationship is developed. Looking at the script most producers would put it to one side: where are the two major turning points? where’s the building action? where’s the big climax? Mary & Max avoids the formulas and still delivers a perfectly accessible and appealing film.

Mary & Max was chosen to open the Sundance Film Festival and more recently it has been selected for competition at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2009. Congratulations! Go Aussies!

Peace and kindness,


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