Tuesday, 16 May 2017

World Cinema: Mary & Max (2009)


Mary and Max (2010) a claymation from Australian directed Adam Elliot who specialises in writing stop-motion animation. The claymation explores mental and social problems between two characters, which would not commonly be explored in the film industry as well as it is in this film. Mary and Max is not a cheerful film, but that is the point of the claymation - to show that these situations are hard and are nowhere near cheerful for those suffering with problems such as these

The film follows the pair across a time frame of 20 years from 1976, starting when Mary, a lonesome 8 year old girl living in Australia, starts writing to her pen pal Max, a 44 year old jewish man suffering with Aspergers living in New York. During Mary's childhood, her father is estranged and her mother is an alcoholic, Mary was unfortunately accustomed to this situation and this caused her to seek out a pen pal. When Max had received the random letter, it caused anxiety for him and continued to do so throughout their communication.

As they both aged, they each came across difficult times, Mary became depressed and suicidal in her adult life and Max's issues further worsened due to his age and ability to do things. Throughout the film we watch their lives go up and down like a rollercoaster ride, and their relationship develops and they bond more across time and the distance. You watch as the two conquer their issues in different ways, Mary during the film is inches away from suicide but the situation changes entirely and she does reach the end of the film and makes it to New York with her young child to finally meet Max for the first time, only to  arrive at his apartment and discover that his condition worsened and had caused him to die not long ago.


The animation is beautifully crafted and exaggerated in ways to add to the character of the film. From the eyes on the clay model of Max, the wideness of his eyes in many shots could be an exaggeration of how he looks at the world and how he sees things due to his Aspergers. The darkness and greyness of New York city, adding to the emotions and feelings related to Max's life of isolation and his loneliness which he has in common with Mary. Although Mary's world seems to be bit brighter, this could be related to the depth of her conditions and feelings - she's still young and has yet to fully explore these emotions, whereas Max has suffered for much longer and he has been detached for longer, therefore the colour plays a part in setting the moods and emotions for each character.

Illustration List:

Figure 1 : Max and Mary (2009) Promotional poster - http://www.skip.at/film/13446/

Figure 2: Film still of Max writing a letter to Mary - http://www.humshaughshop.co.uk/?p=2147

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