The effectiveness of ‘intertainment depends on fast streaming times and high-bandwidths that allow the onscreen action to flow, and animation lends itself particularly well to the technical limitations of casual net viewing. Among all the endless animé mash-ups, enterprising Scottish company Red Kite have won a prominent spot on a BBC website for Neil Jack’s The Tree Officer (www.bbc.co.uk/dna/filmnetwork). This documentary-style account of the daily existence of a jovial man, whose mission in life is to kill trees, is charmingly rendered and offers the laconic sense of humour that bears the individual stamp of both Jack and Red Kite’s work.
Alternatively, you can cross the borders of animation with ten minute short The Hedgehog and The Fog (www.youtube.com). As the title suggests, Yuriy Norshteyn’s 1975 film revolves around a humble hedgehog’s adventures as he carries a bundles of food cross-country, arriving happily at his destination to enjoy a cosy chat with his bear-like friend who gathers to watch the stars with him. It’s a cuddly, communist-era parable of considerable pathos you’d be unlikely to get a chance to see unless you were planning to seek out and purchase the imposingly titled Masters of Russian Animation Volume 3 on DVD.
And unless you’re a regular buyer of DVDs featuring semi-pornographic animations, you may not be familiar with Ralph Bakshi’s Fritz the Cat. Made it 1972, this film’s non-PC reflections of sex, drugs and general air of anarchy have made it hard to find in any format, but you can get a flavour of this film by watching its truly bizarre sequel, The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat (video.google.co.uk). Post-Fritz, Bakshi was quickly headhunted for the abortive first attempt to produce the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the big screen, so this sequel was made without him by mainstream children’s animator Robert Taylor. But don’t be fooled by this frisky little feline; the first animated feature ever to compete in competition in Cannes more than lives up to its filthy reputation, and reminds us that cartoons have never been aimed solely at children.