Seder-Masochism: Nina Paley began at the end and ended at the beginning

by Bill Benzon

Seder-Masochism, the whole film

Nina Paley recently finished her second feature film, Seder-Masochism. Her first, of course, is the award-winning Sita Sings the Blues, a retelling of the Ramayana from a feminist point of view which Paley released in full in 2008. However, she had started posting segments to the internet several years before that and she has done the same with Seder-Masochism, in which she retells events from Book of Exodus. She began posting segments in 2012 and completed the film last year, when she began showing it at festivals. Paley placed the whole film in general release at the end of January this year.

In both cases Paley has worked outside the mainstream movie industry, perform the tasks writing, directing and animating the films herself.

I want to offer some brief comments about two segments of the film. This Land is Mine is the first segment she released, but it is the last one in the completed film. God-Mother is one of the last she released–I don’t know whether or not it is THE last–but will be the first one in the film, even before the credits. Jordan Peterson has interviewed her and, in that interview, Nina said that the process of making the making turned about to be a journey of discovery in which she, in effect, discovered God-Mother. Read more »

Disney’s Dumbo, Tripping the Elephants Electric

by Bill Benzon

We are now less than a year away from the scheduled release of Disney’s live-action remake of Dumbo, the studio’s fourth animated feature. It is in some ways dark and sinister–animals jaded from the daily grind of performing and being on display; cruel, exploitive, and drunken clowns; and the snobbish elephant matrons who ostracize Dumbo and his mother. But let’s set that aside–I’ve covered it all, and more, in my working paper on Dumbo. By the time the film had come out, 1941, there’d been a substantial history of cartoons centered on animals. If anything, cartoons were more likely to center on humans than animals. Why animals and why elephants? Read more »