SUMMARY: A rabbit tries to adapt to his animator’s experiments with various movie genres.
WHY IT’S HERE: American animator Don Hertzfeldt would eventually become one of the greatest and most influential animators of the 21st Century. His early films show much of this promise and, although they were thoroughly surpassed by the ambition and brilliance of his films from ‘Rejected’ onwards, Hertzfeldt’s 90s work is still extremely entertaining, funny and clever. Hertzfeldt’s second student film, ‘Genre’ is the director’s least favourite among his own works. While its premise of a character being persistently manipulated by its animator is an unoriginal idea explored countless times, Hertzfeldt manages to bring a fresh angle to the table that was missing from the likes of Daniel Greaves’ ‘Manipulation’. In ‘Genre’, Hertzfeldt uses a small rabbit character to examine a series of genre ideas. Title cards inform us of the genre the animator will be experimenting with, and then the rabbit is forced to react to various situations associated with that genre. The result is amusing and the jokes largely unexpected but the short gets better as it goes along. After rifling through several genres, the animator pauses, clearly running short of ideas. He then begins creating his own genres by ramming together bits of existing ones, making for some very strange experiences for the rabbit indeed. Hertzfeldt ends the film with a brief self-deprecating gag in which the rabbit makes his own suggestion for a genre. ‘Genre’ is not a groundbreaking or brilliant short but it is a highly entertaining early example of an animation master who can take an idea and squeeze every last bit of worth out of it. Hertzfeldt’s simple drawing style, which would remain a trademark of his subsequent work, belies the wealth of invention that characterise his films.