Review-The Paper Cinema's Odyssey-Hong Kong Arts Festival


By: Satoshi Kyo


The Paper Cinema's performance of the Greek epic poem, Homer's Odyssey, was rather unique. It was actually an animation that could have been easily recorded and packaged into a DVD. But then, that's not the point. The brilliance and pleasure of The Paper Cinema is not only on what one sees or hears on the screen, but actually in witnessing how the animation, music and sound effects is created in realtime. It was like watching the "making of" of a movie while watching the movie itself.
The 75 minutes with no interval animation of Odyssey was created with two cameras set on downstage right. Two puppeteers, Nicholas Rawling and Imogen Charleston, manipulated cut-outs of black and white drawings in front of the cameras that was then projected directly onto the screen. And not very different to silent movies, a team of musicians, Christopher Reed, Katherine Mann and Hazel Mills, on downstage left played music and created sound effects to accompany the animation.
It was a wonder on how little drawings, when strategically moved and positioned, can create amazing depth and dynamic. The drawings were not mere illustrations of the original text, but they were infused with great sensitivity and humor. There were even hitchhiking, missing person poster and motorcycles. The drawings also became 'Technicolor' at the very end to underscore the happy ending. Meanwhile, the music complemented the mood and actions onscreen and the sound-effects enhanced the drama impressively.
The concept, skill and technique on how the whole show was presented was brilliant. However, whether it was effective in telling the epic story is another issue. While the story has been simplified, the narrative was not always clear. Was it the choice of story or the limitation of concept? Despite the clever execution, I can't help but feel that the animation, with its intent and purpose, missed the target because it didn't tell the story lucidly and intelligibly enough. Nevertheless, it was a charming and delicate piece of theatre.

The Paper Cinema's Odyssey is playing through March 1. For more information, click here.



Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: 3.5


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