Sunday, June 25, 2006

Luxo, Jr

Directed by John Lasseter, US, 1986, 2:23 minutes
for a sneak peak:
to see the entire short, download from itunes (there's a link on the pixar site)

Luxo Jr., who, as Jeff mentioned in class, later became the icon for Pixar, is a young lamp who just wants to have a little fun with a ball. The short starts out with an adult lamp, who is presumably Luxo Sr., watching a ball that bounces off of him and rolls back off of the frame. Then the ball rolls right passed him. Out hops Luxo Jr. With his cord waving behind him, Luxo Jr. chases the ball, he plays with the ball, he jumps on the ball, he breaks the ball. Sad and chastised for his carelessness, Luxo Jr whimpers off only to return with a much bigger ball!

Though extremely short in length, Luxo Jr. is rich in detail--both visual and audio. The pixar website notes that John Lassester was playing around with movement and picked the first thing he saw on his desk--a lamp. Luxo jr. though made of metal and screws, is incredibly fluid in motion while never betraying his lamp-ness. He manages to achieve animalistic attributes in a playful puppy sort of way. He hops and bounces and "runs" around, he even wiggles his "butt" with joy and anticipation, his cord ripples after him, following the flow of his motion.

Luxo Jr. has no paucity of emotion. When the first ball deflates, he quickly goes from gleeful to regretful, his lamp shade hung in remorse and shame, his back "hunched." Luxo Sr. reprimands his son with a nod of his own lamp shade and Luxo Jr. heartbreakingly hops out of the frame. It's incredible how much feeling is conveyed through two lamps and no dialogue. In this respect, I think it's incredibly indicative of why this short was made as an animation instead of live-action. Thought I'm sure that there are many things you can do with a real lamp using computers, I don't think they could come close to what is achieved in Luxo Jr.

As I mentioned above, there is also an incredible attention paid to sound. While there is music in the background, the real "dialogue" of the short are the squeaks of the lamps when they bend over or shake their "heads." The sounds take on a conversational tone; just as a puppy would whine or whimper if it were bad, Luxo Jr. gives out a shy squeal of rusty joints as he hunches over in despair.


Daniel C Hopkins said...

This short was a pinnacle for Pixarr. Having an inanimate object act so human in a new form of animation is just spectacular. This idea of humans inside these characters are what makes Pixar so popular today.

ltpalm said...

An example of this human-like quality is near the end of the short when Luxo Sr. looks directly at the camera expecting the audience to understand his amazement. This is also a sort of visual joke I believe, making sure that the audience is aware of how connected we have become with this lamp- a normally inhuman object.