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By Nina J P Evans

Monday, November 12, 2012

A beautiful hand-Illustrated take on the film Melancholia


This is a marvellous idea for a sketchbook! Hand drawn typography with pencil illustrations inspired by using a film for visual and script reference and then making the finished piece back into a film again, perfect! This beautiful sketchbook is made by Debbie Millman writer, educator, artist brand consultant and host of the radio show Design Matters, animated in such a way. Her chosen study is Lars von Trier’s film Melancholia. The theme is about two sisters with a strained relationship showing events from both individuals perspectives, Justine (part1) and Claire's (part2). The two main characters stories overlap and interweave, leading up to the dramatic ending of a distant planet’s collision course with Earth. The textual cut ups of the script are perfectly selected and the typographic hand renderings are beautiful and evocative, reanimating the emotional tangles with a questioning, hesitating hand drawn lettering style. The attention to detail improves the effectually of the dialogue overall.

The sketchbook is illustrated with objects such as chairs, vases, spiral patterns. These objects help create the atmosphere of the film and aid the story. A few of the illustrations look familiar, like the night nude scene on the rocks next to a river is a stunning pose. The sky at night appears and reappears in the sketchbook, is more prominent during the second half of the film as the planet grows closer to the Earth. The cinematic tension builds as the characters perspectives shift, here the sketchbook is lacking a sense of dramatic tension. However, there’s a refreshing and surprising sense of individuality to the sketchbook. These background objects may have gone unseen whilst seeing the original film, due to the excessive amount of information the mind is capable of focusing in on at 24 frames per second. Exploring the sketchbook’s richness of symbols is delightful, the patterns and objects that pair, echo and interweave are held together by the multiplying treads of text between them.

The most notable craft work in the film Melancholia is by the gorgeous cinematography Manuel Alberto Claro and the classical music by composers Wagner and Beethoven. These pencil drawings and typography have a touch of that beautiful cinematic elegance combined with a stark bleakness. The illustrations and typography are very minimally composed and detached from the films scenic environs. I like the way that the sketchbook pages are turned by Debbie in the short film, accompanied with the original film musical score. This pacing and technique allows the textual dialogue to be read and fluctuate, flowing within the white page space as a whole. If the film flicked through the pages like a flicker book, the text would become void of meaning and appear abstract. This has the right pacing, merging seamlessly with the background music itself. Enjoy!

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