Monday, December 05, 2011

Quintessentials - Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

"Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" is one of those quirky little films that seem to pop up on the Internet every day, that become an Internet sensation and skyrocket to Youtube-darling status, seemingly overnight.

In her post, Morgan argues that the random story and adorable voice place "Marcel" in a completely new and different category. She essentially says the film is in another league than your typical short film. I think she's correct in that the fact that we can't define what "Marcel" is (is it a comedy? a mockumentary? an animated film?).

The point is that these Internet-based videos, or short films, or whatever you want to call them are challenging the conventions of film and filmmaking. Specifically with short film, they make us question and debate the definition of a short film. I think if Internet-based films did not exist, we wouldn't have had as many debates over what a short film is as we did. Therefore, I think we have little basis on which to determine whether "Marcel" is or is not a short film.

I'm going to play devils' advocate for a moment and take the "Plot Girl" stance: because there is no narrative arc whatsoever, does "Marcel" count as a short film? What is the film trying to achieve with its dry, obscure humor? Are we supposed to feel bad for Marcel? Should we be laughing at or with Marcel? What is the point? According to Jenny Slate, the narrator and co-creator, the film was the brainchild of a voice she used to annoy her friends. The film really isn't about anything except a small slice of life, according to Slate.

Morgan also mentions Jenny Slate several times in her post. I think this says something about how much stardom affects the way we view and perceive film. Would she have mentioned Jenny Slate's name if she wasn't a "Saturday Night Live" cast member? I doubt that the film would have garnered as much attention and praise as it did had Slate's name not been attached to it. I also think that the quirkiness of the story wouldn't be as funny if a known comedian hadn't narrated it. Without Slate, I have no doubt that the film would be dismissed as hipster pretentiousness.

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