Thursday, August 13, 2009

Duck Amuck - Daffy's Freak Out

Speaking of experiments...Jones continued to do experiments after the 40s, not so much with animation technique - but with concepts.
Duck Amuck questions the whole concept of animated cartoons and consciously dissects the absurdity of the rules and accepted logic (or illogic) of the medium. This makes the film loved by some and hated by others.
I'm somewhere in the middle. I loved the cartoon as a kid, not just because it was a neat concept (Heckle and Jeckle also did the same concept, but less artistically) but because of Daffy's extreme frustration and the expert animation of it.
Of course he isn't really "Daffy" Duck anymore; he's Arsehole Duck - a completely different character than the earlier likeable wacky version, and I think that too irritates purists. I just look at this guy as a new character and accept his personality as being really funny for its own sake.
Some of the ideas in the cartoon are really funny and abstract like this one where the frame melts and collapses all around him.
This could only happen in animation. I would love to have seen who or how the gag was conceived. Maltese or Jones? It sure wouldn't make sense written.

What really makes the gag work is Daffy's extreme indignant frustration and the beautiful design and animation.
There's those crazy Chuck Jones eyes.

This frenzied scramble is great, isn't it?
Mel Blanc deserves a lot of credit for the cartoon's effect. His Daffy performance is brilliantly funny.

I also love this pose and the way his chest heaves.
Of course the structure of the cartoon is perfect and it's that fact that the story is actually about. ...That the director inevitably destroys Daffy bit by bit, building the absurdity up an ascending slope of dramatic construction.
As much as I like and admire the cartoon, I can't help but feel sorry for Daffy, because he doesn't have a chance. He's at the mercy of his creator.
This is the complete opposite of Clampett's treatment of characters, where they themselves cause their own fates.

The pacing of the cartoon is also as close to perfection as I can imagine.
This is an interesting calm after the storm, a stark contrast to Daffy's previous frenzy.

Well I could probably dissect every scene of the cartoon and I'm sure I'll get around to it soon. It's definitely an important event in animation history and its development - for good and bad, depending on who you talk to. But everyone remembers it.

I would almost suggest that it purposely tries to end the period of classic animation by saying it's all been done and it's just an illusion manufactured by the director, but then you'd yell at me. I'm probably overthinking the whole damn thing - but then, so has everyone else who's ever written about it, so I figure I should get a crack at it.