Humpback Angel, The

by Woodward, Joanna

Film: 16mm 1985


At the beginning of my career at art school I was happy to spend my time surprising and flattering myself drawing and painting all the images that I could conjure from my mind. However, I began to realise that if I were to stand outside myself and my own intimate knowledge of painting, that this was a language which could only be appreciated by a minority. So although I had a background strongly influenced by artists such as Joseph Cornell, Marc Chagall, Picasso, Max Ernst, Bosch, etc, I began to nurture a way to convey my convictions in a language where my ideas, dreams ad visions could seem to become actuality, and this was most successful through animation. An animator, like an alchemist, wants to achieve the impossible, or at least make it appear to occur. The necessary change in scale that take place from the real world to the drawing board in animation, means that it is continually dealing with metaphor. Folklore and fairytale seem to go hand in hand with animation as both make metaphor their basis. As a film-maker I don't want to fall into the equivalent trap that painting held. I see too many films about the act of being a film-maker, and even as a film-maker myself, may I admit I find them boring. Film-making at whatever level should not be like poorly presented scribbles from someone's diary. In my original script for The Hump Back Angel, I created a structure from which to work, which while appealing to my sense of aesthetics provided a time-based framework. Confident that I had a compelling plot, I could then tackle the visual side of the film in quite an unorthodox manner without being too elusive. - J.W. PLOT: The King once every year orders his servant to fetch a newborn babe. We imagine that the King orders them to butcher, as they always vanish and his lips are left stained with blood. One night the King looks through his telescope and sees a star fall to earth and is so excited by this he orders his servant fetch him a newborn babe at once. In the woods the servant discovers a changeling/baby in a tree and takes her to the king, who instantly recognises her a holy child worthy of keeping for a wife. So the babe grows up imprisoned by the King's fascination of her powers, which begins to be revealed in her humped back and causing her to have the nickname of Humpback. As she reaches maturity she takes to walking in the castle grounds and one night the King decides to follow. He discovers that she has a secret lover, and although having previously abolished plans to marry her because of her disfigurement, he is furious and locks her away. This tragic situation is now expressed in grand operatic style, as she 'dances for sorrow within the confines of her room' angusse violin music (violin in D minor by Shuman). The tension increased when we realise that her lover is going to try and rescue her the following night by sawing the bar from her window. This becomes farcical when the King is awoke by the sound of sawing and sees them escaping down a ladder, he shouts ‘Quick after them’...and so the classic chase begins: Humpback and lover on one horse followed by the King and courtiers. The chase finally comes to an end when they all reach the edge of a cliff, (which we can now see is my studio table) and the humpback and her lover are throw down it over their horses head. However a miracle happens when the hump changes into two beautiful wings,and it seems the Humpback can fly. Her lover holds tight to her ankle in the hope of being saved as she floats into the sky. But the ending is satirical of fairystories, the Humpback does not marry the handsome prince, he lets go of her ankle and falls to the ground, while she flies to a place where there will be no need for him and she can be free.


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