It’s hard to write anything about Zagreb animations, because they are so short and so varied. The Zagreb School is something of an alternative to the mainstream of animated powerhouse studios producing blockbusters for the big screen or regular weekly productions for television: releases are irregular, very personal and very mixed, belonging to the world most of us, even those interested in animation, mostly remember exists only when the Oscar nominations for short animation pops up. So I thought it would be simplest to write about my favourite one, adapting a chunk I wrote for my MPhil thesis.
Exciting Love Story, by Dovniković, is a simple and clever little short in which the main character Miki moves between eight frames that comprise the screen, pushing against, breaking through and being unable to see past the black lines marking the borders of each distinct environment in a way very reminiscent of metatextual jokes in comics. Each frame exists both as a coherent space and as an element making up a greater metaphysical space on the screen, but for comic effect Miki can interact with them in both ways. Elements can move from one to the next, and scenes can collapse, creating an unpredictability and malleability of space that fully utilises the possibilities of animation for the sake of visual comedy.
The result is something exuberant, experimental and yet also distancing – an exploration of the nature of animation on the screen makes for something amusing and fun, but which cannot really sustain more than a very basic storyline for more than a few minutes. The nature of animation is highlighted, and with it the artificiality of what we see.
Taken as a story, it is of course lacking. Taken as a funny little experiment, it does exactly what it sets out to do.