The National Film Board of Canada’s Animation Express, a collect of experimental, artistic and often award-winning animated shorts is now available to US customers in both DVD and Blu-ray versions.
We first mentioned this collection as part of the NFB’s 70th anniversary celebrations. The NFB was good enough to send review copies of Animation Express in both DVD and Blu-Ray format, which came in really handy with a house full of sick kids. While the 26 film two-pack DVD was excellent, the Blue-ray version really shines with an additional 13 shorts (including two Oscar winners) and mastering that makes the most of the high definition format. While not everything in the discs is necessarily appropriate for young children (for example, The Spine and Academy Award-nominated Madame Tutii-Putii were quickly skipped because of scenes that were a little frightening), the bulk of the films are fine and menu options help in terms of filtering the selections. Besides being able to pick individual films, you can narrow the choices down to: For All, Humour, Visual Delight and Social Issues. You can also sort by Film Title or by Film Maker. I’d suggest parents prescreen just to be safe. Animation fans will find representations from virtually every technique, including stop motion, traditional hand drawn and computer generated.
I was surprised to see that my kids, who absorb “cartoon” animation that’s typically heavy on the slapstick and light on plot were fascinated with the artistic and inventive use of animation. There were plenty of offerings that had them laughing too: At Home With Mrs. Hen (with the hyperactive trouble making chicks), Pimp My Boat and Invasion of the Space Lobsters were favorites.
Animation Express is available through the NFB Boutique (which ships to the US) and lists at $39.95 for Blu-Ray or $34.95 for DVD.