Space Travel According To John

Space Travel According To John


Reviewed by: Chris

I’ve never been a big fan of animation. Too big a quantum leap of imagination. But there’s animation and there’s Space Travel According To John. This is different. Listening to the eponymous John could be the funniest three minutes you’ll remember for the next millennium. Or at least till you get to Mars. The ‘animation’ – which is basic and very fast – seems little more than a youngster’s high speed illustrations of lightning fast projections going on in his head.

Ten-year-old John has it ALL worked out. Life plans, getting what you want, finding life on other planets, the universe. He will explain to you. Very quickly. What you need to do. How to become an astronaut. Hurdles you might encounter. Overcoming them. Validating different theories on your travels. Or basics like dealing with aliens and why the universe is the way it is. John has the confidence of a young Bill Gates on acid. No stopping this kid. He bowls you over with insights and ability, making up convincing explanations of any bits he’s unsure of. He’s a three-hat-trick short of a space ship but at his age anything is possible.

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To not watch Space Travel According To John is to abandon three minutes of your life that you will spend unproductively doing something else. His sincerity, charisma, and the fact that there isn’t anything he doesn’t have an answer for makes him one of the most entertaining children you have never met. Even if you don’t like children. Or animation.

Fourth year Film & TV students Jamie Stone and Anders Jedenfors have already won accolades for their earlier work. Now the well-deserved McLaren Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival for this. It's absurd and captivating in the same instant - it is hard to imagine three minutes that could leave you gripped so hard with so little. Technically, the short is simple and stunning. Sand animation (or ‘sandimation’) is the impressively low-budget technique where sand is moved around on a piece of glass. Each movement creates a frame of the film. Light contrasts engineer interesting effects using front lighting or backlighting.

But story – and in this case script – is everything. The magical voice of John Gillespie is key. I imagine his spellbinding powers could wrap most adults around the little finger of one hand as he presses a NASA launch button with the other...

Reviewed on: 30 Jun 2008
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A ten year old boy explains his space travel plans in this award winning animated film

Director: Jamie Stone, Anders Jedenfors

Year: 2008

Runtime: 3 minutes

Country: UK

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