Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Paul Vester's Abductees

Paul Vester's 1995 film Abductees is a mixed-media piece. It contains live-action interviews with people who claim to have been abducted by aliens; when the abductees provide drawings of their experiences, the film uses animation - in an array of different styles - to bring their illustrations to life.

I remember reading a review of Abductees years ago that, summerising the film, said something along the lines of "either fascinating or hilarious, depending on how you view the subject matter" This seems to be taking the film too literally: the short's not a straightforward documentary about alien abduction, but rather a meditation on the emotions, sensations and iconography associated with the subject. Anyone going in expecting a flying saucer documentary may be in for a disappointment as this is really a film about humans, not aliens.

Clare Kitson's book on Channel 4 animation has a chapter devoted to the film, describing how the illustrations by alien abductees of their memories tied in with Vester's interest in outsider art, and how he had trouble getting the film funded as broadcasters wanted a film that'd come to a conclusion as to whether or not the interviewees were really abducted by aliens, as opposed to the more subjective piece that the film ended up as.

Abductees is fortunate enough to be available on at least two DVD compilations: in the UK as part of British Animation Classics Volume 2, and in the US as part of Cartoon Noir.

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