In the world of animation, Bruce Bickford is a true original. The independent filmmaker’s work in clay is a mash’up of irrepressible childish exuberance and adult desires and insecurities. What unfolds on screen is essentially pure imagination unhindered by a need for acceptance or artistic perfectionism. His genius is best displayed in scenes where the clay figures and landscapes are constantly morphing into other characters and objects. That’s when it goes from ‘I could do that’ to ‘how on earth did he do that?’
Bickford is best known for his collaborations with indie rocker Frank Zappa, which yielded such psychedelic ’70s productions as Dub Room Special, Baby Snakes and The Amazing Mr. Bickford. In 1988, he produced Prometheus’ Garden, a 28-minute film based on the Greek myth about a Titan who created the first mortals from clay and stole fire from the gods. This is the first project over which he had complete creative control and the result is a bizarre and mesmerizing vision that is certainly not for everyone, but a nice addition to any collection of alternative animation. It’s now available on DVD for the first time.
Bonus features on the DVD include a commentary track by Bickford and the documentary featurette Luck of a Foghorn. Directed by Brett Ingram, the 28-minutte doc explores the creative process behind the making of Prometheus’ Garden, interweaving Bickford’s animation with outtakes, home movies and interviews. Ingram also directed Monster Road, an award-winning documentary on Bickford and the life experiences that shaped his unique art.
Prometheus’ Garden and Monster Road are both available from Bright Eye Pictures (www.brettingram.org) and retail for $22.95. Sales directly support Bickford in his struggle to continue creating films by modest means. Watch a clip form Prometheus’ Garden and the trailer for Monster Road on AniMagTV.