{Film Review} The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (2011)

Inspired, in equal measures, by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and a love for books, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a poignant, humorous allegory about the curative powers of story. Using a variety of techniques (miniatures, computer animation, 2D animation) award winning author/ illustrator William Joyce and Co-director Brandon Oldenburg present a hybrid style of animation that harkens back to silent films and MGM Technicolor musicals. Morris Lessmore 

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore won the Academy Award this year for Best Animated Short Film. Of course, being the inquisitive girl I am, I watched it to know why. I have always been fond of shorts; I consider them bite-sized films with incredible stories and amazing music  scores. When I saw the description from Rotten Tomatoes, I immediately had the desire to watch. 

The silent film opens to a “Pop! goes the weasel” them in the background and Mr. Morris Lessmore, amiably reading one of his many books, when a Wizard of Oz-esque hurricane whirls him around and lands him in a barren place, the remnants of the storm. He looks up to see a beautiful young woman being carried away into the wind by – get this – flying books. The woman says something to a flying book, which breaks away from its companions and signals for Mr. Lessmore to follow him. When Mr. Lessmore follows, he is led to a large building full of live books. By live books, I mean books that do all sorts of things – walk, run, dance, play the piano – and indicates that they are alive and kicking (literally, for some). Mr. Lessmore then becomes their caretaker of sorts.

I loved this film for a variety of reasons, but most of all I loved how this film encapsulates the reading experience for me. While watching this short movie, I had the sudden desire to become a librarian… but then I remembered that there were very few public libraries in the Philippines, and much less that contained a lot of fiction. You couldn’t help but love reading while watching this, avid reader or not. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Lessmore shows the effect books have in one’s life. In a little less than fifteen minutes, the film managed to show the power of stories and how people can enjoy them, because there are different kinds of stories, and you’re bound to find one that you like. There is a part where Mr. Lessmore hands books to people from all walks of life. The people were shown in black and white, but one they receive their books and start to read it, they began having color, which is a simple way of showing the elaborate effect of stories, on how they enrich our lives. It’s a bit hard to explain, which is why I love how The Fantastic Flying Books showed this without words and in such little time. I highly recommend you watch this!

Note: I embedded a video of it I found in YouTube below. Enjoy!

In a nutshell…

Rating: 5/5

Runtime: 15 mins.
Released: 2011
Directors: William Joyce, Brandon Oldenberg
Writer: William Joyce
Producers: Lampton Enochs, Alissa Kantrow, Trish Farnsworth-Smith
Music: John Hunter, BREED
Studio: Moonbot Studios
Country of origin: USA
Genre: Animation, Short

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