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Big Buck Bunny (S)

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Original title
Big Buck Bunny (S)
Running time
10 min.
Netherlands Netherlands
Sacha Goedegebure
Jan Morgenstern
Blender Foundation / Peach Open Movie Team
Animation. Comedy | Short Film (Animated). Animals
Official Site
Synopsis / Plot
"Big Buck Bunny is the second short 3D computer animated cartoon from the Blender Foundation. The Blender Foundation produces these films to stimulate development of and promote use of their popular eponymous free software 3D modelling and rendering package.

The Foundation's first film, codenamed Orange, was Elephants Dream. This was in the European experimental stop-frame animation tradition, a dark Gilliamesque fantasy with two men trying to escape a threatening clockwork labyrinth that may or may not really exist. The character and scenery designs were excellent, and the film as a whole was very atmospheric. The quality of the facial animation and the comprehensibility of the plot were criticised, though. And the full release of the soundtrack for the film was not Free due to being limited to noncommercial use. These minor criticisms aside, Elephants Dream was a very successful production.

'Big Buck Bunny', by contrast, is firmly in the Dreamworks mould of cartoon animal comedies. This is quite a change from the steampunk magical realism of Elephants Dream. I am of course reviewing it for Furtherfield because it is an example of producing high-quality animation using an alternative funding model and giving the results to society in a copyable, study-able, reworkable, remixable form that advances participatory culture rather than because cartoon animals trying to kill each other is funny.

As the film begins we encounter the titular oversized rabbit living in a bucolic paradise of rolling fields, fruit trees, birds and butterflies. Destruction and cruelty intrude into this green and pleasant land in the form of a trio of vindictive smaller mammals. Big of heart as well as of frame the rabbit is quickly driven over the edge by the intruders' spite and sets out to teach them a lesson in a superbly crafted series of cartoon violence vignettes.

The plot and characterisations suffer briefly from an unfocused start but quickly rally to an amusing and often laugh-out-loud funny climax. There are a couple of cuts that don't quite scan, but you'll miss them if you blink. The modelling, animation and rendering are superior to Dreamworks fare such as 'Over The Hedge'. Big Buck Bunny's animators have a much better dramatic and artistic grasp of what made old Warner Brothers cartoons funny than Dreamworks seem to have, or at least they have not been prevented from using that knowledge. Visual comedy is about timing and the timing of Big Buck Bunny has the musical quality of the best old slapstick film and animation.
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