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By Lucy McNabb
November 25, 2013
By Lucy McNabb
November 25, 2013

In his latest project, Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?: An animated conversation with Noam Chomsky, the highly original French filmmaker Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The We and the I) ventures into a hybrid territory of animation film-meets-documentary-meets-conversation. Based around several intimidatingly intellectual chats Gondry had with the American philosopher, political activist and linguist, the film cuts between documentary-style footage of their conversations and surreal animations drawn by Gondry himself.

The self-proclaimed outcast admits he felt "pretty stupid" in Chomsky's toweringly brilliant company, and the hand-drawn doodles serve to render more accessible the complicated concepts they covered, such as human cognition and the nature of communication. The animation springs from an admittedly out-of-his-depth Gondry's own instinctive, colourful and at times childlike responses to Chomsky's thoughts rather than a know-it-all smugness. Gondry recently told BuzzFeed, "I don't assume that the audience is sophisticated or not sophisticated because I'm not sure I'm smarter than them. I'm probably less smart than most people."

The feature-length film premiered at the closing night of festival DOC NYC, and has had positive, if sometimes bemused reviews. It seems well worth a viewing for Chomsky fans and, seriously, it's a bit of a novelty seeing a cartoon-version of the ideas zooming around one of the world's leading intellectual minds, isnt it?

Published on November 25, 2013 by Lucy McNabb


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