Flicking through the BFI’s encyclopaedia served as a stark eye-opener to the number of animated films I plain haven’t seen. Then there’s the films which I might have seen but I just don’t remember and the films which I think I’ve seen a bit of but I had to take the dog out so missed the rest. Well, now there’s no excuse. Now I have the complete bible of animated feature films, a beautifully put together book written by the clearly incredibly knowledgeable and passionate Andrew Osmond.
The films are dealt with in no particular order and with a no-nonsense, accessible approach. Each film occupies a couple or so pages; many of the analyses include beautifully printed colour stills which only add to the pleasure of casually flicking through this sturdy compilation, as well as adding as visual justification for each film’s inclusion.
Perhaps the best thing about this book is its constant cross referencing: as an animation novice (or so I’ve learnt!), I can quite happily read up on the films I have seen and enjoyed and receive a few recommendations along the way. For example – like most ‘90s kiddies I’ve watched Ferngully: The Last Rainforest . After reading Osmond’s brief featurette, I have my sights set on Le Roi et l’Oiseau, to name one I haven’t seen, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Shrek to name a couple I have and Avatar to name one I think I’ll give a miss despite Osmond’s best advice.
But aside from offering helpful, relevant film suggestions Osmond goes further and offers a fresh perspective on films even the most dedicated culture-phoeb will have seen, like the Lion King. Evil uncle Claud- I mean Evil Uncle Scar is well known as a dastardly and devilish foe, but I don’t believe I’ve ever read of him as “a bitchy, slinky Widow Twankey”, nor had I ever considered his sexuality until it was laid on the table by the verbs “simpering” and “squealing”. Osmond is informative and imaginative all rolled into one.
The BFI’s 100 Animated Feature Films is an incredibly worthy addition to any bookshelf (or coffee table) whether or not you consider yourself a film geek/buff/nerd. There is something for everyone to take from each brief yet entertaining excerpt and if today’s staff room experience is anything to go by, a joint flick through this book’s pages with some friends and/or co-workers will prompt some delightful trips down memory lane as well as many a “oh, have you seen this film where….? It’s bloody great!” quips sure to keep you in bottles of wine and comfy nights on the sofa for months to come.