May 2, 2012 10:11 AM   Subscribe

It's animation student film season, and once again, Cal Arts does not disappoint. Eusong Lee's "Will" is not only a gorgeous piece of art, it will also touch your heart.
posted by sprezzy (12 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Who put all these cut onions on my desk?!
posted by slater at 10:19 AM on May 2, 2012

Just a warning to other folks: this film deals with 9/11, so if you're not up for that today you might want to give it a pass.

I'm not sure how to feel about films like this one. Artistically, it's gorgeous and emotive, and absolutely worthy of all the praise that has been and will continue to be heaped upon it. And I know it's been almost 11 years, and I should be over this, and we're well past "too soon" territory.

But I also know that Eusong Lee, who appears to have just graduated with a BFA, is probably around ten years younger than me, and was probably a very small child when this happened, and likely doesn't have any memory of the day. And I'm not sure how to feel about that, either. Kind of old, I guess? Like it's time to accept that my own experience of that day isn't what the conversation is about anymore; that enough time has gone by that 9/11 has become a symbol and a cultural touchstone, not an event I watched from my window when I was Junior in college.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:32 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Narrative, it frustrated me for that reason. The yo-yo imagery was lovely. But it could've been applied to any situation. Her youth combined with using 9/11 without any other context for her choice makes it feel like cheap tear-grubbing.
posted by schroedinger at 10:38 AM on May 2, 2012

I take exception to what Narrative and schroedinger are saying. I like the first two things Narrative said mind you, but you can't have any idea what was going on in Eusong Lee's mind on that fateful day, or when this video was made.

The reason I take exception is because my Mom was six years old when Kennedy was assassinated. Six years old. She knew who the President was. She knew how much everyone liked him. She knew how important the President was to the country she lived in. And to this day, my Mom can tell you how badly she cried when she heard about Kennedy being shot. She can tell you how it affected her family, her friends, and herself.

I don't think we give kids a lot of credit for their emotions. They have deep ones. Very deep ones! And that is why I dislike what was said above. I have (very young) children of my own now, and I imagine if I were to be gone one day, it would affect them. Maybe not greatly today. But 10 - 11 years from now, they might think "If only I got to know my Dad. If only he didn't go out that day." And that makes me cry. Which really sucks, because now I'm late for a staff meeting.

*splotchy face'd*

Great video.
posted by mrzer0 at 11:03 AM on May 2, 2012

Go CalArts! I got my BFA from there in flute performance in 1995, but I know so many animators from my years there- I see their names in the credits of so many Pixar films...

This is a very strong entry- certainly pulled my heart strings! Congrats to Eusong Lee!
posted by cherryflute at 11:17 AM on May 2, 2012

mrzer0, I wasn't trying to imply that kids don't deserve credit for their emotions. But assuming Lee is of typical college age, meaning she was in her very early twenties when making this film, then she would have been an infant or young toddler in 2001. In which case, it strikes me as very unlikely that she has a personal memory of that day.

The point I was trying to get at, in a roundabout way, is that films like this tell me that the conversation about 9/11 is starting to shift from "people who experienced this, directly or indirectly" to "people who grew up with this as part of their reality." Lee grew up in a different world than I did, and her film is part of how she's decided to process the cultural memory of 9/11. And I don't necessarily have a problem with that. But it's....just a very strange thing to watch. Just like I'm sure it's weird for your Mom that the assassination of JFK has largely gone from a deeply affecting moment in people's lives to a sort of conspiracy theory trope in popular fiction.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:52 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Narrative Priorities, 2001 was eleven years ago, so Lee would have most likely been 11 or 12. For a comparison, I was just past my eighth birthday when JFK was assassinated (13-and-a-half years before I graduated college). My family had just moved to a new house and it was my first day in a new school, so I was so engrossed in understanding my new environment that when the PA system announced "the President has been shot", I thought it was talking about the school's Student Body President. But it didn't take long for the reality to soak in... and if there was any doubt, when I got home, news coverage was the only thing on TV... no Rocky and Bullwinkle, all Walter Cronkite (and that young guy in Dallas, Dan Rather). Mine was a solidly Republican household and I saw my mother cry. And I remember. The funny anecdote just makes the rest easier to remember.

And, [SPOILER] I still believe it must be said that, thanks to the truly heroic work of hundreds of FDNY and other emergency workers, a vast majority of those who called home from the Towers did get out. If you'd like another story of someone who didn't, here.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:00 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

....wow I cannot believe that my brain farted so badly on that math.

I guess this is my "went to class without my pants on" moment.

Please disregard my last comment while I go hide under my desk.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 1:18 PM on May 2, 2012

Ah geez, how terrible I felt for that child, the guilt forever of not picking up the phone. I don't know why that fact is the one that stands out with all the things wrapped up in there. That's what tugged hardest, and for both of them.
posted by Glinn at 2:57 PM on May 2, 2012

Eusong Lee, who appears to have just graduated with a BFA, is probably around ten years younger than me, and was probably a very small child when this happened

Yeah, agreed. Conflicting for sure, but isn't that the point of art? I found this very hard to watch... and I watched it three times in a row. Thinking back to that day and what happened. My office, half from New York, whispering and quiet, waiting to here. The terror. The sadness. The nausea. The confusion. This brings it all back.

But not because it carries it, rather it provokes it. You're right, Eusong Lee has tangental memories of that day (probably). Her sketch brings it to life -- for her. For those of us directly affected, it's beyond life. It brings us to death and takes us, perhaps, to a place we no longer want to go. The scab, picked at, torn off. And we are so raw again.

But she is not raw. For her, these are photographic memories rather than emotional memories. Like the Kennedy times my mother spoke about, I remember where I was. I remember every second of that day. But those are our memories. They are not reality. They are etched into our heads, and thankfully, not the heads of our children.

I was speaking with a man from West Berlin last night about the day the wall came down. They ran in one gate -- he and his wife -- and they ran around in East Berlin and out the other side, joyous in the moment. As he spoke about, he teared up. This financier. This man who hires and fires, who optimises every day. This man who has no emotion about his work today. When he talked about the wall falling, he had not aged a day, as if there was a time capsule in his heart, forever in that moment when they ran in the gate and out of the gate. He was animated and alive.

I saw that day on television. I remember hearing, "This is history nickrussell, this is history." But I didn't feel emotive about it. I understood that people were climbing a wall, and that TV was showing it. I love speaking to Germans about that day, for there is so much emotion that comes across. This is recent, new history. This is the foundation of life today in Germany.

Maybe Eusong is like me watching the wall coming down. It's important. It means something. And it's emotional. I could make a great short animation about the wall coming down. And it would make people stop and cry. My simple short would take people back to that day... to that moment, when their whole lives changed. When everything changed.

And I would be completely ignorant to that. I do not feel what they feel. I lit a spark that connects to something beyond myself.

And isn't that really art? Eusong Lee, I salute you.
posted by nickrussell at 3:48 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

According to their profile, Eusong Lee is male.
posted by needled at 7:12 PM on May 2, 2012

Ah geez, how terrible I felt for that child, the guilt forever of not picking up the phone.
That sounds extremely loud and incredibly close.

posted by unliteral at 10:12 PM on May 2, 2012

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