Saturday, 25 February 2012

Donkey Skin

Peau d'âne [Donkey Skin] (1974)

When the Queen dies she makes her husband King promise to remarry only to one who surpasses her in looks, after searching far and wide the King is convinced their daughter is the only one he can marry. The Princess was willing but her fairy godmother insists it is taboo so the Princess asks for 3 impossible dresses made to her as a condition. When the King presents her with the dresses she asks for the skin of the kingdoms magic donkey and then runs away in the night to live a poor life in the forest. There a Prince happens to spy her and throws a tantrum until he can conduct a test to find his bride: by marrying the maiden who can fit a delicately small ring, fit only for a Princess.

Original Film Poster
Technical specifications   

Donkey Skin was shot on 35 mm film, in mono sound, in colour.

The film utilizes animation film techniques in order to portray a fantastical world. Including live actors performing the roles of statues; castle denizens themselves (and their animals) being the colour of the royalty they belong to; slow motion, reverse motion, stop/start motion, double exposures, and dresses made of reflective fabric so images could be projected unto it.    

A Fairy Tale Collection

I came across the tale of Donkey Skin through the tale of "Color Master" by Aimee Bender, printed in the collection of stories "My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me". The story centers around dye-creators who the King from Donkey Skin asked to make the impossible dresses: the colour of the moon, the sun, and the sky. When reading the story about colours and the fantastical dresses they created I wanted to make an animation myself, one that conveyed the impossible imagery of the these dresses that were the reflection of nature itself. It was from this I discovererf the French film created in 1974 and I was beyond curious to see how they would weave these dresses of wonder. What techniques would they use?  


Effects in the movie

00:21:29 A Dress that Reflects Light (the sky)
01:14:10 Colour Scheme
01:05:35 Double Exposure (daydreaming)
01:05:25 Double Exposure (daydreaming)
00:45:30 Double Exposure (talking to flowers)
00:42:55 Colour Scheme (dyed horses enhances)
00:38:53 Overlapping (magic mirror)
00:37:56 Double Exposure (multiple transformations)

00:34:35 Slow Motion
00:32:14 Slow Motion

00:31:54 Pause Motion
00:26:19 Sun Dress (mirrors)
00:35:04 Freeze Frame except for Donkey Skin moving in Slow Motion

00:01:43 Stop Motion
00:26:06 Double Exposure (Fairy Godmother warning)
00:24:11 Moon Dress (mirrors)
00:06:01 Living Statue
00:05:35 Colour Scheme

I believe finding the basics is important in anything that you do. The animation techniques used in this film, Donky Skin, are simplistic but cunningly beautiful in the context of this fantastical world. The film depicts animation without drawing, with rich and outrageous colour schemes that unite kingdoms and animals alike, outrageous dresses and outfits that by the end of the film seem normal despite how large they are on the figures, and layering effects which must have seemed simply fantastical when this film came out.

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