Filmmaker: Stefan Eling
Year Made: 2007
Length: 5′ 07″
Technique: hand drawn
From an oblique high angle we see a red-haired man standing in a room. The furniture includes a coffee table, a standard lamp, and a carpet with a spotted pattern. The man switches on the standard lamp and we can see that in the middle of the carpet is a large cube covered with a cloth, on which stand a cup and saucer. He moves the cup and saucer to the coffee table and folds up the cloth. The cube opens to form a chunky armchair, in which he sits, having taken off his slippers. Immediately, a different reality takes over the cube of space directly above the carpet. Rapid piano music begins, his hair flies back as if in a wind, the coffee table, cup, slippers and lamp all vanish behind him, and he seems to be rushing along a road, sitting in the armchair. A number of large eggs fly past him, until he is distracted by a toaster flashing by and one of the eggs hits him in the face. He crashes to the floor and all the objects return to their normal places.
He gets up slowly and gets back into the armchair. The ‘ride’ is again a road, but the chair turns into a low-slung trolley. He passes a traffic light. Suddenly the road changes to a railway track and the trolley into a freight truck. As arrows start to fly past him from behind, the railway changes to sandy ground scattered with skulls and cacti. The truck changes into a chunky wooden horse and a number of cowboy hats flash past. Then a sombrero hits him in the face and he crashes back into his room. There is a toaster on the coffee table instead of the cup and saucer.
The third ride begins as before but quickly everything vanishes and he finds himself in a plane with clouds and birds flying past. Two toasters also fly past and he shows some skill in manoeuvring past these hazards. But then a cup and saucer start to overtake him from behind: looking at this, he collides with a bird and crashes to the floor once more. The cup and saucer are back on the coffee table but a cactus has replaced the standard lamp, and he notices that his slippers have moved to a different part of the room.
In the fourth ride, the chair drives straight into the sea and changes into a boat. He negotiates posts and lifebelts in the sea before a huge wave rolls over him, the boat changes to an underwater jet ski and he acquires goggles and breathing apparatus. He negotiates many different fish but fails to notice a figure just like himself lying on the floor as he has done after each crash, although facing in the opposite direction. A shark swims alongside and bites off his breathing apparatus. Back in the living room, the coffee table has gone and a traffic light and railway signal unit have appeared.
In the fifth ride, the chair quickly changes to a trolley and then a motorbike. He swerves to avoid hedgehogs and tyres lying in the road, then several other motorcyclists, the coffee table, the standard lamp, the spotted carpet and his slippers. Finally he crashes headlong into another motorcyclist and disappears. The chair is now facing in the opposite direction, with the motorcyclist lying on the floor in front of it. The motorcyclist – who seems to be a pig – gets up, puts on the slippers, replaces the cover on the folded-up armchair and the cup and saucer on top of it, and switches off the standard lamp
My main inspiration was that so many men waste their time with computer games. My ideas for the film were: that it would be funnier if we could change the shape of the furniture in our living rooms, rather than buy small ugly games consoles; to mix a modern visual theme with traditional 2D drawn animation that has a 3D ‘look’ and to use classical piano music; to bring action and motion to what is normally a quiet place: an ordinary carpeted living room; that it would be interesting to have a ‘virtual enemy’ take over at the end and wear my slippers! The difficult part was finding the time to do all the hand drawings that make up the film when I had to earn my living doing other things.
Things you might notice
• The ‘camera position’ never changes; and you could consider the effect of having a high-angle, oblique shot. What if the audience’s point of view were different, or if there were several different viewpoints as in most films?
• The colour range is very limited, brightening up only in the game world. • We don’t know anything else about this man apart from the things he has in his living room and what he does in it – or where he goes at the end.
• The effect of the music (try showing the film without the music, or playing the music on its own before showing
Themes to explore
‘Ride’ type computer games – why are they such fun? What makes them addictive? Which are the best ones (and why)? Do some children prefer them to other types of game (eg shoot-em up, quest, virtual worlds) – why/why not? Are there ‘rules’ in some families about how much time to spend on them? (If so, why, and do children keep to them?) Do boys like them more than girls? (If so, why?) Do children ever worry that they are spending too much time playing games? If they could invent a ‘ride’ game what would it be like?
What’s real and what isn’t in this film? This is a complex question but children can enjoy exploring and reflecting on the criteria they use when judging something as ‘real’. For example a ride is more exciting if it is realistic: you may believe it is real while you are playing. Watch out for the ways in which Eling signals the switches between the ordinary everyday world and the game world. Look for the objects that appear and disappear, passing through the ‘cube’ of the game world: which ones originate in the living room and which ones come from the game world?
An impossible ending? The film ends when the central character disappears completely (and for ever?) from the scene and is replaced by a character from the game world. Watch carefully to spot how this happens. You might want to stop the film just before the end, or once the children have grasped the pattern, and ask what they think the ending might be. This could encourage ideas about how to finish off the scenario with a funny and/or meaningful conclusion. Children may also want to discuss “What happens next?” or Cyber 2: does the character from the game world settle down in the living room? Does the film’s central character settle down in the game world – or did he originally come from the game world himself?
Is there a moral to the story? Does Eling want to put us off computer games?