Old Man Cartoon Movie

George Orwell’s allegorical novella Animal Farm has certainly played a role – at least formally – in the conception of Mikk Mägi and Oskar Lehemaa’s Old Man Cartoon Movie, for behind the amusing adventures of three children by their grandfather’s farm, there is a precise allegorical scheme. A “vertical” society lead by a charismatic figure, a sort of political boss exploiting the lower class in order to nourish a passive middle class, in the double version of the reactionary and violent tyrant (a Soviet despot?) and the drunk and popular autocrat (a contemporary populist despot?). Be them two legendary “milk men”, the village people and the cows, the scheme works perfectly to teach the urban children (i.e. the new generation, or the viewers themselves) the «real life» of countryside, the real relationship of power in society.

This sort of theatrum mundi is precise enough to include secondary social groups like the technology freaks, the hippies or the environment/animal activists. This last category actually plays a crucial role, as one of the children – the hero the viewers will identify with – champions their cause, but not without embodying also some laughable traits that show the filmmakers’ wide angle sarcasm. Yes, for Old Man Cartoon Movie seems to spare no one from its volcanic teasing activity.

Nonetheless, this is also a simple animation film to laugh along with, which entertains also, through a quite conventional drama structure and a pulsating tempo. Therefore, I would suggest it for family screenings, in spite of – or because of – its acid political and moral incorrectness. The moral ecologism is so overtly exhibited that a simplistic first viewing will simply enjoy it, and a more refined second viewing will capture its self-criticism. Even a crystal clear sexual allusion at the peak of the improbable adventure will serve at the same time to pitilessly represent the religious power as opportunist and empty. Dark anthropological pessimism dressed in sparkling coloured clothes: such a cinematic item is definitely a rarity!


Old Man Cartoon Movie | Animation | Mikk Mägi, Oskar Lehemaa | EST 2019 | 88’ | Festival Fantoche Baden 2020

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First published: September 10, 2020