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THE ALBATROSS
1998 - 14.30 mins - 35mm - dolby stereo
Scratched on film animation.
Produced, directed, and edited by Paul Bush
Featuring Julian Maynard Smith and Dean Proctor
Voices - Gerard Murphy, Jack Fortune
Music - Geoffrey Bush
Musicians - Simon Lock, Andrew Bernardi, Rebecca Low, Diane Porteous, Ryan Smith, Gary Holdsworth, Richard Wainwright
Choir - The Exmoor Singers directed by James Jarvis
Script - Paul Bush adapted from Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Animated by Paul Bush, Mie Nagai, Mina Mileva
Camera - John Stewart, Paul Bush
Costumes - Joanna Macklin
Sound design - Andy Cowton
Executive Producers - Colin Rose, Maggie Ellis, Richard Gooderick
A BBC Bristol/Ancient Mariner Co-Production in association with The London Production Fund and The Arts Council of England, supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England.

A ship sets sail on an epic voyage through malignant natural and supernatural elements from which one man alone survives. An adaptation of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner illustrated by nineteenth century wood engravings which are animated by scratching directly into the surface of colour filmstock. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner with its message of ecological redemption has a curiously contemporary resonance, but it is at the level of the mythic that the poem has lasting relevance; for this epic tale of extraordinary events simply mirrors the struggle that each human being faces on their own in his or her life.

'This work is extremely realistic in its reproduction of human forms, churning waves and rocking vessels on the sea, which clearly have been created with the use of live-action reference footage...In terms of The Albatross's imagery, the intersection of documentary and fiction is quite strong, with the underlying live-action footage evoking a sense of the real while the etched images are themselves quite stylized.' Maureen Furniss

'A beautifully animated, suitably poetic adaptation of Coleridge's 'Ancient Mariner', reminiscent (but mercifully not too much so) of Dore's engravings. Forever teetering on the brink of abstraction, the visuals are at once immaculately realistic and appropriately mythic.' Geoff Andrew

Black and white live action footage of the actors was combined with cut out engravings, model shots and film of the sea. This was all printed on to 35mm colour filmstock and scratched by hand, frame by frame. The colours generated in the film come from scratching into different levels of the film emulsion. By combining different types of colour filmstock and negative and positive images a range of colours was produced. The film was then optically assembled to include dissolves and freeze frames and 35mm prints were made for theatrical release.

Best Film under 15 minutes - Zagreb Animation Festival 1998
Special Jury Prize - Hiroshima Animation Festival 1998
Best Film - Cinanima 98, Portugal
Alves Costa Award - Cinanima 98, Portugal
Gold Conch - Mumbai International Film Festival 2000

More information on technique

Albatross storyboard: