Directed By: Theodore Ushev
Music By: Alexander Mosolov
Premiere: This movie premiered at the 2008 Ottawa International Animation Festival
Trivia: Won the award for Best Sound at the 2009 International Animation Film Festival
It’s been a while since I checked out the movies on Animation Express, a collection of shorts (many produced by the National Film Board of Canada) spanning a variety of genres and techniques. The movies I’ve seen thus far ranged from good (Sleeping Betty) to great (Madame Tutli-Putli, Ryan), and this time around, I decided to watch Theodore Ushev’s Drux Flux, an abstract short about industrialism and progress that’s all at once jarring and engrossing.
Originally in 3-D, Drux Flux begins innocently enough, presenting images of machinery and factories, most popping on and off screen so quickly that we barely get so much as a glimpse of them. As the music of Russian composer Alexander Mosolov starts to swell, the images move a bit more rapidly, and are joined by Russian propaganda posters (which have also been slightly animated) that praise the worker. Soon, geometric shapes and blueprints have joined the fracas, all leading up to a reference to Herbert Marcuse’s “One Dimensional Man” (which collapses in a heap just as the movie ends).
Drux Flux definitely has something to say about progress and industry, and the dehumanizing effect both have on the individual (the few people we do see as the pictures and clips storm by are relegated to the background, working the machines). It’s a message reminiscent of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, but more than its social commentary, Drux Flux stands as a shining example of the power of film, and how things like rapid cuts and sharp angles can affect our emotions as well as our perceptions. As the pictures were flying by, I found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed, even off-kilter, and the reason why had as much to do with the movie’s style as it did the photos themselves.
Taken on their own, the images in Drux Flux are nothing more than a few hundred (thousand?) snapshots of buildings and machines. Toss them together in the manner that Ushev has in this film, and they have an unmistakable power.