The Hole (1962)

Genres - Drama  |   Run Time - 15 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

With the advent of UPA in the 1950s, American cartoons started becoming more stylistically ambitious and diverse, a development which was followed by a similar growth in subject matter for some cartoons. The Hole, 1962's Academy Award-animated short winner, is a fine example of both these changes. The visual style is as far away from traditional Disney style as one can imagine (although Disney itself was experimenting with some stylistic visual innovations in some of its own cartoons around the same time). There's no attempt at making a cartoon that tries to emulate "reality." Instead, John and Faith Hubley fill the screen with pen-sketching, charcoal blocks, swashes of watercolor, and blobs of color. There are certainly recognizable and identifiable images -- buildings, people, buttons, etc. -- but they are placed in settings that attempt to define reality in an abstract manner. (The animation of the two main characters is similarly abstract, created in the shifting-shimmering manner that would influence the later Bill Plympton.) This strange but beautiful visual is married to a narrative that discusses nuclear annihilation in both direct and indirect terms. The dialogue related to this discussion, much of it improvised by Dizzy Gillespie and George Mathews, is a treat. It has the breath of genuine "overheard" dialogue, very natural yet still pointed, with marvelous little side trips and phrases that make the characters seem quite real. Hole has dated a bit, but it remains thought provoking and rewarding.