Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Movie Review - Mary and Max

This animation is centred around two central characters Mary and Max who both feel abandoned and distant to the rest of the world. “Mary's random encounter with a telephone directory, and their exchange of letters swiftly emerges as the emotional lifeline for their unhappy existences.” (Pulver, 2010) The audience discovers links through the friendship that reveal how the characters have had their own tragic lives because they don't fit in the world around them as they don't fully understand it or the other people that chose to ignore them and treat them differently. Mary and Max characteristic traits are parallel as they begin both miserable on opposite sides of the world. The fate that brings these characters together creates the feeling of acceptance and a chance to help each other achieve their goals and hopes. This process is played out with Mary writing the first letter and waiting for the reply from Max, the viewer watches the slow progression of the bonding of the characters play out to a point where they become dependant on the letters and treats that bring light to the character's isolation.

Figure 1, (2011), Mary and Max writing to each other

Mary and max was created by the Australian director and animator Adam Elliot, who has adopted the stop motion style of claymation that gives the animation it's charm. "The themes are nicely complemented by Elliot's animation style, which is full of wonky cityscapes and misshapen characters, something that gives this oddball story a lovely, tactile, handcrafted feel." (Harkness, 2010) Elliot has stylised his world and characters so that the viewer can make a clear distinction between the life that Mary has in Australia and the busy and built world up of Max's life in America. The crafted approach of the clay makes the style of the world seem vulnerable and hyper realistic to get the viewer to feel different responses to certain characters. Mary has been made to appear as a cute and innocent child that has a curiosity about the rest of the world and asks Max these questions as he is the only person that Mary can approach with these fascinations. In contrast, the alcoholic Mother and Mary's childhood bully are both an exaggeration of grotesque and dark characteristics as another side of human nature that are among the lives of Mary and Max that the viewer can relate to in their lives.

Figure 2, (2009), Max

The emotion in the animation transition together to create moments of depression that the characters face and the feelings of joy as their lives try to improve according to the choices they made.
"...Mary and Max emerges as a tale that's both funny and sad, with Elliot's screenplay finding a perfect emotional pitch throughout. The film's animation style is distinctive and hugely imaginative, employing a wonderful use of colour (Mary's gifts introduce bright hues into Max's grey world) and some great visual gags, but it ultimately succeeds because of its resonant central story.” (Concannon, 2010) The values of colour choice are strong to describe of individual characters, one example is the grey world of New York where Max lives and the fact that Mary loves the colour brown describes the dull tone in the beginning of the character's loneiness. The gifts are colourfully to suggest that they are trying to cheer up the other by brighting their dull worlds that Max and Mary are trapped in. The 'visual gags' help to humour auidence to give them an insight of their lively personalities that come to life in thier letters to each other. It also creates distinction of the much darker scenes such as Mary falling into depression where she feels that the few people who loved and cared for her has been abandoned. She therefore feels sucidel which is represented through a dark room and flashes of picture frames of what Mary has lost, also this is represented through a slowly physical change of Mary becoming her alcoholic mother.

Figure 3, (2010), Mary almost giving up


Figure 1, (2011), Mary and Max writing to each other, @, Accessed on: 26th September 2011

Figure 3, (2010), Mary almost giving up, @, Accessed on: 2010

Concannon, 2010, The Skinny, Independent Cultural Journalism – Mary and Max, @, Accessed on: 20th October 2010

Harkness, (2010), - Mary and Max review, @, Accessed on: 28th October 2010

Pulver, (2010), Guardian UK – Mary and Max review , @, Accessed on: 21st october 2010


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