Harvie Krumpet
UNCLE. 1996
COUSIN. 1998
Director: Adam Elliot

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Harvie Krumpet Harvie grew up in the woodlands of Poland. He suffers from Tourets syndrome & has a clinically insane mother.

He experienced death of family & war brought by the Germans . So he fled by sea to Australia, becoming no longer Krumenski, but Harvie Crumpet. He worked at the garbage dump.

As he got older & uglier, there were more jobs that were horribole, a split skull, he was struck by lightning. The unluckiest man in Australia. Yet he gets married & adopts a thalidimide kid & begins to work for Animal Liberation.

Harvie KrumpetWhen he was sixty-five years old his wife's brain clotted.

He found himself alone, with his daughter now a lawyer in America. He got senile & ended up in a home.

Harvie Krumpet (2003) was released on dvd with other of Adam Elliot's animation. Harvie's tale is a grimly, beautifully, painfully human short subject, slightly over twenty minutes, narrated with the right balance of comedic malice & senstivity by Geoffrey Rush.

It's one of the most adult & simply sophisticated claymation films ever. No bloody wonder it won an Oscar for best animated short, & more festival awards than you could bludgeon with a club.

UncleDepressing wonders of anguished thrilling life are at the heart of Adam Elliot's filmmaking, short films that have won literally dozens of awards. Four early pieces are generally viewed as autobiographical in one way or another, certainly borrowing a lot of bits from some of the realities he observed in childhood & youth.

These films catch you between wanting to laugh at cartoon miseries, & gasp at the real things people contend with in order to be alive. The earliest, Human Behavioral Case Studies (1996), is a drawn animation rather than claymation like his other films. It's about unusual human behaviors or obsessions. At only a minute long, it's just long enough to be memorably, darkly amusing.

CousinThe other three short films are very simple claymation pieces of a similar effect, forming a trilogy. Uncle (1996) is six minutes, about the narrator's uncle who once owned a hardware store. He is kind of an ordinary sod who did ordinary old sod things. He got old & creepy, not at all unlike Harvie Crumpet.

Cousin (1998) is four minutes in length. The older cousin has cerebral palsey. He's another of Adam Elliot's family of weird losers, having troubles of all sorts, & an unlucky life. But back when the cousins were playmates, they played their boy games & had only slight understanding of what crap life was & would remain.

BrotherAt eight minutes Brother (1999) is set in a small red suburban house under the high wires. Dad's an alcoholic paraplegic.

The narrator's brother is asthmatic & has a lazy-eye. He has a collection of cigarette butts. Other bits are recycled from Human Behavioral Case Studies.

Life pressed on for the kids as for most kids, with minor adventures & a pet lizard, just regular stuff, until the titular brother up & died of an asthma attack.

Adam Elliot's claymation films are not as slickly professional as Wallace & Gromit cartoons, but so rife with themes of doom & unhappiness that they feel much more significant psychologically, & perhaps just a tad too real if you dare think about them too long. Elliot's balance of strange beauty & horror of banality may be a narrow vein to mine, but of exceeding power.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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