602. The Hill Farm – Mark Baker

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SUMMARY: Three days in the life of the inhabitants of an isolated farm, a group of visiting tourists, a gang of hunters and a large, sleepy bear.

WHY IT’S HERE: Before he became one of the creators of the hugely successful children’s series ‘Peppa Pig’, Mark Baker made a handful of distinctly more downbeat, adult films. Deadpan, dark and hilarious, ‘The Hill Farm’ was Baker’s debut film and bagged an Oscar nomination right off the bat. Watching this remarkable 18 minute short, it’s not hard to understand why and ‘The Hill Farm’ has become a legendary piece of 80s animation, even if many viewers miss its dry appeal. ‘The Hill Farm’ takes place over three days on the titular farm and its surrounding area, in which the family’s quiet life is interrupted by tourists and hunters who manage to stir up the wrath of a bear. The simple, sketchy artwork is hugely effective in creating an immersive little world and at no point does Baker attempt to present a cosy lie. The farmer’s wife, for instance, repeatedly snaps the necks of chickens, the dull crack and completely emotionally disconnected way in which she does it raising a mordant laugh every time. However, Baker counterbalances any realism with a deliciously black penchant for absurdity. The vicious hunters, for instance, will apparently fire their guns at any living thing, even individual bees!

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