689.Canhead – Timothy Hittle

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SUMMARY: Jay Clay and his dog Blue find themselves lost in a deserted wasteland made up mostly of scrap metal.

WHY IT’S HERE: American animator Timothy Hittle’s Jay Clay trilogy stars a character whom Hitttle had been making amateur Super-8 films about since the 70s. A small clay man who owns the dog Blue, Jay Clay began his official trilogy with Hittle’s 1991 film ‘The Potato Hunter’. Set in a desolate-looking wasteland, ‘The Potato Hunter’ made no attempt to disguise the fact that its world was in fact built on a table-top and the result was rather reminiscent of 1970s animation icon Morph. With ‘Canhead’, Hittle stepped up the production values, creating an extremely effective update of his table-top wasteland in which all signs of artifice were gone. On this newly convincing stage, Hittle stages a battle between Clay and a metal Easter Island head which turns out to be a partially-buried monster. ‘Canhead’ was nominated for an Oscar in 1996 but lost to the German film ‘Quest’, a superficially similar film about a sand creature travelling through various wastelands in search of water. ‘Quest’, though visually impressive, has a ponderous and unsatisfying feel, while ‘Canhead’ played like a version of ‘Quest’ with a sense of humour.

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