Saturday, January 15, 2011

Robert Morely in The Dot and the Line 1965

Last Saturday I featured a film produced by Chuck Jones and based on a book by Norman Juster (The Phantom Tollbooth 1970). Five years earlier another one of his books was turned into a short subject by Jones that has been rarely matched in charm and sophistication. It was called The Dot and The Line, A Romance In Lower Mathematics.

The story is very simple, a line falls in love with a dot, but the dot, capricious as they are, has feelings for a squiggle. The line, determined to win the object of his affection, goes about a program of self improvement, learning to bend and curve and create all sorts of shapes and patterns. The dot, of course, is delighted and in the end is won over by the versatile line. The film is a faithful reproduction of the graphics in the book, which are very clever and elegant, combining photographic elements with fields of color and hand drawn line. Add to that the delightfully somber narration by Robert Morely and you have a winning product. Winning, indeed - it was the 1965 best animated short subject winner at the Academy Awards.

Being a short subject, it can be difficult to locate this on recorded media. It was included with the 2005 release of The Glass Bottom Boat and can be found on the 2008 Warner Bros. Academy Awards Animation Collection as well. It's available on YouTube in its entirety and can be seen above, thanks to an upload by nuullt. It's also occasionally screened on TCM

Obscurity factor: 2 (Well known in film and graphic design circles, available on YouTube and as DVD extra)

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