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Harvie Krumpet
voice cast: Geoffrey Rush, Kamahl, John Flaus, and Julie Forsyth

writer and director: Adam Elliot

22 minutes (12) 2003
widescreen ratio 16:9
Metrodome DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 10/10
reviewed by Andrew Hook
Harvie Krumpet is the title character in this excellent claymation animation from Adam Elliot, an Australian whose work I had been unfamiliar with, but as this DVD contains his other short films it's an excellent opportunity to get acquainted. Taking a documentary approach, with Elliot's superb script narrated beautifully by Geoffrey Rush who gets the tone right every time, Harvie's life is rendered from his birth in Poland in 1922 until his final days in an Australian nursing home. The comedic moments gently balance the pathos of life and death, and the film never oversteps the boundaries of good taste despite the often-contentious subject matter.

So if you're thinking that dementia, having a metal plate in the head, adopting a thalidomide child, suicide, and the sadness of death don't sound like the kind of animation you're after then think again. Elliot's approach is perfect in this movie, and whilst its 12 certificate reflects the subject matter, I'd also suggest that it's not that unsuitable for children.

The comedy runs rife, but my favourite segments are in the nursing home, where a bus shelter has been erected inside the grounds so the inhabitants can wait for their imaginary rides. Harvie shares a room with Hamish McGrumble, a man who "looked like something off a tin of shortbread and had nostril hair that looked like he was housing a family of spiders. He was 94 years old and had given up the will to die." One of the funniest moments is when Harvie hides Hamish's dentures and only shows him where they've been once replaced in his mouth.

Whilst I usually find director's commentaries tedious and unnecessary, the accompanying information from Elliot on this DVD perfectly suits the package, bringing home just how many weeks some of the shots in the animation took to shoot. The commentary extends to three of the other four short films on the DVD, all of which are entertaining and which demonstrate the germination of Elliot's themes that culminate in the success of Harvie Krumpet. The storyboard featurette and gallery of characters are also worth viewing.

Overall this is a superb package featuring the very best in animation. Deservedly the winner of many awards, Harvie Krumpet is a character that will live in your imaginations for years to come.

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