Ryan (Oscar 2004)

Ryan is a story about Ryan Larkin, an innovative, talented and gifted Canadian artist, who, thirty years ago, at the National Film Board of Canada, produced some of the most influential animated films of his time. Some year before dying, Ryan lived on welfare and panhandles for spare change in downtown Montreal
When people think of documentary filmmaking, generally, they assume that it’s an objective medium. But Chris Landreth integrates photography and live-action footage with animation (it goes through 3D animation, to pencil drawing, to painting, to sketches) and uses supplemental or secondary animations to represent the psyche of the characters as you traverse through the story.
In revealing Larkin’s inner landscape, Landreth has delivered us into a deeper, richer reality. We see the real Ryan Larkin that our eyes cannot see.

He, using Maya software, recreates Larkin as a fragile, incomplete person. We can see only a portion of a face. His body is breaking apart, his memories are haunting him and he's much more interested in the late artist instead of his own life.
Using a technique called psychological realism, the movie shows the emotions of the characters in a way never seen before. We can hear the voice of Ryan Larkin and people who have known him, but these voices speak through strange, twisted, broken and disembodied 3D generated characters... people whose appearances are bizarre, humorous or disturbing.
In one poignant scene, we see a young, complete Ryan, with hippie threads and long hair, come to life in his award-winning film Street Musique. He is filled with joy and soon begins dancing with his creations. Occasionally, we hear from other observers. Landreth also shows us his motivation: he sees elements of his mother in Ryan’s life.

Chris Landreth introduces himself to us in a funky restroom and then introduces the film's subject, Ryan Larkin, a brilliant animator in the 1960s and early 1970s. Chris shows us clips of Walking and Street Musique, Ryan's ground-breaking shorts. We now see Ryan as he is: emaciated, alcoholic, much of his mind gone; we meet Felicity Fanjoy, his love during his creative period, and Derek Lamb, his producer. Ryan talks to Chris in the dining hall of what is probably a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Chris tries an intervention. We follow Ryan out into the street where he panhandles. The animation, which uses live footage, reveals the ravaged burned-out graceful man.
When Ryan’s 2D drawings from Street Musique are dancing in step with Ryan's 3D character, we can also find an homage to another Canadian filmmaker, basically the mentor to Ryan — Norman McLaren — where Ryan’s character begins his dance and you see these Shiva-like 10 arms strobing:an homage to a piece by Norman McLaren called Pas de Deux, which came out around the same time that Ryan was really at his peak.
You can buy Ryan (Special Edition).

No comments: