What do you think of when you see the word “animation”? The Disney empire probably springs to mind; in recent years, Pixar will have come to do the same. But not all animated movies feature long-haired princesses and talking animals. Some of them are actually meant for adults, and no, “meant for adults” is not a euphemism for pornography.
Some animated films, like Shane Acker’s 9, deal with darker themes. 9 tells the story of an animated rag doll who must fight to save humanity. To coincide with 9’s release, MovieMaker has compiled a list of some of the best animated movies intended for adults.
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)
directed by Trey Parker
Everyone knows this is definitely not a film for children. (I sincerely hope there wasn’t a parent or babysitter out there who thought “Hmmm… South Park—I wonder what this is? Well, it’s animated, so the little ones should have no trouble with it!”) The movie is based on the “South Park” TV show, which seems to have sparked controversy continually since its first season over a decade ago. The movie features nudity, sexuality, violence and—needless to say—a lot of cursing. This movie isn’t for the easily offended, but for those who enjoy raunchy humor this is definitely one to see.
Waking Life (2001)
directed by Richard Linklater
This one belongs on this list in an ambiguous sense. Not because it’s “sort of” an adult movie—I can’t imagine an elementary school student sitting through Waking Life’s discussions on philosophy and the nature of existence without fidgeting. I know some adults who would fidget, too (one of those adults is me—but only a little bit, I swear). Rather, Waking Life isn’t “animated” in the traditional sense of the word: PPictures drawn on paper or by computer and then strung together. Rather, the film was shot and edited in live-action, and then the animation was done over the initial image, in a technique known as rotoscoping. The technique was used again in 2006’s A Scanner Darkly, also directed by Linklater.
Triplets of Belleville (2003)
directed by Sylvain Chomet
This should have won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2004—but it was nominated along with the much-overrated Finding Nemo, so there was virtually no chance that Sylvain Chomet’s brilliant and touching film would actually take home the prize. One of the things that’s so striking about Triplets is its virtual lack of dialogue. The first scene is a song-and-dance number, and there’s a small amount of dialogue at the beginning and the end, but aside from that the only dialogue in the 80-minute film is incidental and in the background. Not to say the movie is silent; the sound design is fantastic, and the visuals will blow you away. Better than some talking fish any day.
directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi
Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis is a coming-of-age story that features all the usual characteristics of such a movie: Teenage rebellion, family relationships, boy trouble. The fact that it is set against the background of the Iranian Revolution makes Persepolis that much more compelling. The movie features sex and drugs, but its main focus is what it means to call oneself Iranian when the ruling party keeps changing, and atrocities are committed by a variety of different governments.
Sita Sings the Blues (2008)
directed by Nina Paley
Director Nina Paley has taken an unusual step for a moviemaker—she has encouraged movie-watchers to freely distribute and share her film, so that it becomes available to more people. This wouldn’t be such a good thing for movie buffs is the film was not as good as it is. Luckily, the film is an intriguing blend of song and different animation styles. The film tells the story of the ancient Hindu epic, the Ramayana, with the goddess Sita expressing herself through the songs of the 1920s blues singer Annette Hanshaw. Many people would doubt that the Ramayana would make a good subject for a film, but Paley’s retelling—coupled as it is with segments that depict Paley’s divorce from her husband—make the Ramayana interesting and relevant to a modern audience.
Waltz With Bashir (2008)
directed by Ari Folman
Ari Folman’s animated documentary about the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the early ’80s is full of disturbing imagery—and how could it not be? Waltz focuses on Folman as he interviews other former Israel soldiers in an attempt to remember his involvement in the war. That the film is animated enables Folman to craft the film out of surreal imagery that would have been impossible were the film constructed using just news clips and stock footage. Folman’s unique approach to documentary moviemaking was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2009.