Filmmaker: Magdalena Osinska
Year made: 2009
Length: 10′ 36″
Techniques: 2D drawn and cut-out animation, 3D model animation and live action
Synopsis and voice-over script
Opening titles appear on a dark background, to a scribbling noise. A panda- like creature hops across the screen, and a coloured split appears up the centre of the screen. The panda reappears and starts to open the split as other creatures appear from the edges. The split is pulled open to reveal a scrap of paper with the word RADOTSKI written on it in blue crayon, the O formed as a red strawberry, in the centre of a wide screen. Suddenly water flows over the paper, blurring the letters. The Story Teller starts to speak.
Story Teller: “Oh no, it’s spilt again. It was supposed to be nice but it’s just like always. That’s all right. Maybe I can fix it. So today I will paint – a boy and a girl. I will call them Logan and Jasmine.” Animated figures appear on scraps of paper stuck into pink clay blobs. Story Teller: “Now I will create – a board game.” Coloured cards flip out to create a board game ‘track’ and a landscape appears, with cut-out houses and mountains; some elements start to move. Story Teller: “Logan and Jasmine, I have a quest for you. There is a … surprise. These are the rules. By noon, which is 12.00, you have to reach this tree [tree appears]. There’ll be many dangers along the way [a creature growls]. The sun will show you the time. This is the east and this is the north. North means noon. [white suns with red crayoned faces appear] and this is the west, where the sun sets. At 12.00 the real fun will begin. You’ll discover what real friendship means.” [Story Teller coughs.]
Dark blue clouds roll in and big inky blue drops start to fall on the landscape.
A fast zoom and dissolve take us to Jasmine and Logan standing on a blue ‘horizon’ line in a flat 2D setting behind big stylised blue drops, which then merge to form wet runnels on the paper where the characters are standing. Jasmine squeaks and tries to push a runnel away; Logan produces long spindly arms and tangles with the runnels. Jasmine starts pulling Logan along by one of his arms when we hear a voice saying “Grrr, what’s that on my tail?” and see a large cut-out cat-like creature striped in the same way as the landscape across which it moves.
Against a yellow sky, the sun rises: its long spindly red rays reach out to Jasmine and Logan, whose shadows start to extend behind them. Then we see them walking up a steep green line across orange paper. The dark ‘curtains’ seen at the beginning reappear and the same creatures creep about over them, although this time they are in colour.
Story Teller: “Testing, 1, 2, 3. Oh, I forgot to tell you that there are the animals on the side that wanted to be in the story but didn’t get in, and I am the Story Teller.”
Against a blue background, Jasmine and Logan are sidling towards the right- hand edge of the screen. Suddenly Logan screams and drops downwards out of sight. We see the same scene in long shot: Jasmine is standing on the edge of a blue sea, seen in section so that all the fish and other creatures in it are visible. Logan swims about freely. But Jasmine screams as a huge sea-monster starts to chase him. He escapes from the sea by climbing up Jasmine’s hair. Against a pink background, Jasmine starts to blush as Logan kisses her. They hug amidst rotating pink images of cakes, sweets and hearts. But suddenly they find themselves upside down on an orange background, being threatened by a large growling flower. The landscape revolves so that they are the right way up again, but the flower has become a dinosaur. Logan faints, and the Story Teller intervenes: “Oh no, I think I have to help you.” The dinosaur is rubbed out.
Jasmine and Logan are skipping and jumping up a big brown-paper hill in a mountainous 2D landscape. Suddenly Jasmine screams and falls: Logan turns to run and jump down the hill while the Story Teller shouts “Quickly, quickly!” Logan catches Jasmine just before she hits the ground.
Story Teller: “I’m so happy that you made it. But now you have to hurry.” Jasmine is pulling Logan across a flat 2D landscape, facing the gradually rising sun. Shadows start to cover their faces as they approach a huge tree trunk.
Story Teller: “Hurray! You made it! [tilt shot up tree to reveal huge strawberry in tree] Attention, Attention! I’m announcing a new rule. You have to get the strawberry before the sun sets. I can hear mummy calling me for dinner. I have to leave you alone for a while. Be good.” [steps are heard running away]
Jasmine and Logan try several different ways of getting up the tree: running at it, jumping, leaping off the top of a big stone, scrambling up the trunk. Finally they both run towards it, but crash into each other and fall to the ground, crying.
Story Teller: “What have you done? You didn’t listen to me! [slow zoom out to reveal strawberry in tree then clouds above the tree from a very high angle] I can’t leave you alone for a minute! Sunset is very close. Maybe the sun will help us. Sun, please help us!”
Behind Jasmine and Logan the sun is starting to set and cast long shadows. Facing the tree, they see their shadows start to climb the trunk. Logan realises that the shadows of his long arms can reach up very high if he stands on Jasmine’s shoulders. His shadow arms reach up and grasp the strawberry, which falls with a plop on top of them. The screen goes red, and the little creatures start to appear, munching their way through the strawberry flesh, to the sound of laughter.
Two women speak:
“I thought the strawberry could be a little bit better…”
“That’s all right. I noticed the most important thing…”
“…and the sweetest thing…”
Story Teller: “I’ll tell you something more, from MY point of view. You can love your friends, yes you can, you can love your nanny, a lot of nannies, if you have three of them you can love all three; if you have 10 you can love them all, if you have four you can love them all, even 11… [laughs; iris-in on Jasmine and Logan] Thank you! [credits start to roll] It’s the end. You can go home now! [laughs] Can I have my surprise now?”
Joyets is addressed mainly to a child audience. It’s about the happiness of being a child: the intensity of a child’s emotions and their 100% experience of their surroundings are the plot and the form of the film. The story consists of an incredible game in which we set off on a journey to an unknown and fantastic world. A child is our guide and narrator. He creates the rules of a game, in which the two main characters, a boy and a girl, have to take part. The characters learn that thanks to love and support they are able to overcome the most challenging obstacles.
The style was inspired by my own childhood drawings which I found in my attic. I decided to bring to life my buddies from childhood. I recorded interviews with my nephew, four-year-old Kamil Grzybowski, in which he told me made-up stories and opinions: I used his voice in the [Polish version of the] film and his ideas in creating the script.
Things you might notice
• The English language voice-over may seem too obviously middle-class and scripted, as opposed to the more spontaneous recordings of a younger child that were used in the original, so you may want to ask children to make allowances for this.
• Joyets uses a mix of animation techniques in a more complex and daring way than Animatou, and goes much further than The Witch’s Button in drawing attention to the texture of the materials used. The different effects of crayons, markers and paint are very obvious; different kinds of paper are used for various backgrounds (eg coarse coloured paper, graph paper, wrapping paper, etc), and it is often clear that the paper has been drawn or painted on before, but the marks are partially rubbed out. The technique of ‘boiling’, which is another way of drawing attention to the animation process, is used with the pencil-drawn creatures at the beginning and at several other points. The concept of deliberately making the creative process obvious and including apparent errors runs counter to the assumption that art works should look ‘finished’ and ought not to show ‘mistakes’. So it could also be interesting to discuss this with children in relation to their own films or other art work.
• Osinska’s use of her own childhood drawings provides an interesting discussion-point about the ‘quality’ of the drawings you would expect to see in an animated film. She has used drawings that are typical of certain ages: for example Logan’s extra-long arms rendered simply by long lines with scribbled lumps at the ends instead of hands. But she has then stayed true to the logic of these ‘immature’ drawings and even exploited their features in the characters’ actions. There is a big contrast between this and the highly standardised characterisation seen in most mainstream animation.
Themes to explore
Sentimentality? The ‘love’ message of the film may seem contrived: the Jasmine-Logan relationship certainly depends on collaboration, ingenuity and friendship, but to go from this to ‘loving your nanny’ may seem a stretch.
Modality: The film is clearly NOT meant to seem real, and pushes at the boundaries of fantasy in animation. It may prove quite a challenge for some children but can reward repeated viewings. Game structure: Using the conventions of ‘quest’ type computer games where an increasing series of hazards have to be overcome, is a common device in stories and films. It can be linked back to folk tales and fairy stories which use similar structures to test the virtue of characters while maintaining suspense.