Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Feeding on Words: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (2011)

Technically, this isn't about a book but it deals with much more than that. This animation won the oscar during the 84th Academy Awards, Short Film (Animation) category and there is no wonder that it did.

I literally cried while watching this. So glad I was alone or else people might think me crazy. It doesn't matter though. This short film has spoken more words to me even though it's a 'silent' clip.

Books are special. Printed, paper or hard bound literature hold a special place in my heart because I don't remember not knowing how to read. Of course, I wasn't born reading but all my life I've known that I love to read. I still do. And even more, I write. Though I haven't finished writing a full length novel yet, this animation is a gift.

A few minutes ago, I consciously mulled over the possibility of letting my dream of writing novels die. Tragic, I know, but when you've tried so hard to discipline yourself into writing and get blocked almost every time, quitting seems to be very attractive. I checked my FB because I needed to get my mind off a funeral of dreams. People may call it fate but I found one of my friends shared this video and I immediately watched it.

Somewhere between the world turning black and white and Mr. Lessmore growing old, tears started making its way down my face. I don't understand. It's not a sad video but it spoke volumes to me. I was overwhelmed by its beauty and the subtleties that lie beneath their animations.

Life without books is black and white. It can get boring and monotonous. It can lack adventure and be filled with fear and longing. Life without books can make a person hopeless. Books bring color into our life. Books bring us into worlds unknown and characters whom we dare not cross but have to endure. Books keep us alive and keep us from falling into the monochromatic world of routine.

Everyday, however, a book dies because no one reads it. Everyday a volume gets eaten by age and decay, leaving its bindings and losing its letters. Because we don't pay them attention, they die. What purpose does a book have in its existence if it doesn't get read? It doesn't matter if you have them with you, display them on the bookshelf, or sleep on them at night. If you don't read them, they die. Books can only be effective when they're read. Books can only bring color into your life if you allow them to transport you out of this world and into theirs.

Books are our friends. They can be our companion in any situation. When we're sad, happy, troubled or celebrating something, books don't complain. They lead you and push you on. Some books encourage, other books give warning. All books teach something.

For a frustrated writer, who thankfully does not yet live on the streets begging for bread, I believe that life will not be complete without books. It's good to read them but it's even better to write them. Mr. Lessmore knew this and even though the words on his pages had been blown away, he wrote again. He kept writing, unearthing wisdom and stories from his experiences. He kept writing until everything he was meant to write had been written and it was to this end that he knew his life was complete. The transition of being a caretaker of books to a parent of one is astonishing. Birthing a story that can stretch its wings and soar is an amazing achievement and though writers come and go, the books--their children-- will live on, waiting for the next set of eyes to pore through them and keep them alive.

I'm sure we all loved reading once in our life. This animation showed me I shouldn't give up. There's a story out there, or even already inside of me, and they're waiting for me to write them down. They're waiting until I labor in my typing or with my pen and eventually, miraculously, give birth to a book of wonders--a book that can soar on its own even when I am gone.

Thank you William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg of Moonbot Studios for creating such a wonderful short film. I love it and so does the world, the people who live their lives on creating and caring for books. May you continue making inspirational videos that change lives. I know my perspective has changed.

And as Mr. Morris Lessmore contemplates on the world he lives in, he asks the questions that matter most:

"Does it matter? If life is enjoyed, does it have to make sense?"

Enjoy the video everyone. Have a wonderful day!


“The idea for the film was inspired by a dear friend and mentor, Bill Morris, a lover of books and a grand old gentleman of children's book publishing,” said William Joyce, co-founder of Moonbot Studios and co-director on the “Morris Lessmore” film.  “I know Bill would be touched to see a film about his life’s passion honored by the Academy.”

Inspired, in equal measures, by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and a love for books, “Morris Lessmore” is a poignant, humorous allegory about the curative powers of story.  Using a variety of techniques, including filmed miniatures, stop motion, 2D, and 3D animation, award-winning author and illustrator William Joyce and co-director Brandon Oldenburg present a hybrid style of animation that harkens back to silent films and MGM Technicolor musicals and is the most cutting edge of today.

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