Sunday, 22 November 2009

W.M. Larkins films: Without Fear and a Barclays Bank advert

I wrote about the W.M. Larkins Studio here. With this post I'll be looking at two films from the studio that aired on BBC4 alongside the Animation Nation documentary series in 2005; one is a piece of political propaganda, the other a commercial.

Without Fear, directed by Peter Sachs in 1953, is a propaganda film sponsored by the U.S. Economic Co-Operation Administration. It combines silhouette animation with still paintings.

"Europe today - in every country we face an unknown future", says the narrator. "We hope for peace, for a life worth living."

The film briefly meditates on the human condition and our capacity for love and war.

We see the good that technological advance has done for society.

"And yet, in Europe, we still have barriers. They keep us apart. They make it hard to trade the goods we have for the goods we need, and we all need things we haven't got."

The film proceeds to denounce the Soviet Union, which is portrayed in heavily symbolic terms.

Interesting use of limited animation: a still, painted family change into animated silhouettes. The upward-pointing pose is used in the film to represent servitude to the Soviet state.

Here, the pointing fingers of servitude are joined by pointing fingers of accusation.

A return to the idyllic Europe from before. "No man who has ever known freedom will willingly give it up. Freedom to choose the way we want to live, and to respect the ways of others."

"Freedom to combine with our workmates, and to protect ourselves against slavery."

"Freedom to choose our government - and if we don't like what it does, the right to throw it out and elect another."

"Freedom, above all, to think what we like and say what we think - without fear."

The film discusses people living in poverty, "to whom 'freedom' is an empty word". We are told that a united Europe could put an end to poverty.

"We can still preserve the things that make us different, that make us what we are. But we can also learn from each other, help each other." The film ends on an optimistic note: "Freedom is Europe's heritage. Sharing these things together, working together, thinking together, we can guard that heritage; not only for ourselves and our children, we can preserve it for the world".

This 1960s advert made for the global division of Barclays Bank is a different animal altogether. The title was not given on the BBC4 broadcast; the BFI database lists a Larkins production titled simply Barclays Bank D.C.O., which could very well be this one. It's clearly a follow-up to Put Una Money for There, and even uses an instrumental version of Sam Akpabot's song from the 1956 advert.

A man discusses his problem with another character - his wife keeps taking his money. The second man tells him to put his money where his wife can't get it.

He tries burying it (to the anger of his wife), but has trouble finding it again.

His problem his finally solved when his friend introduces him to Barclays Bank.

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