After seeing “Barney’s cherry” in the Eurobricks Brick Flicks and Comics forum last weekend, I started wondering why animations starring Fabuland characters are so frequently Lynchian. Considering Fabuland was originally marketed at children ages 4-8, there is an alarmingly high occurrence of hallucinatory imagery, adult language, and graphic violence in these animations. There aren’t many Fabuland animations to begin with, so this list could also be called “The 7 Best Fabuland Animations,” but ranking them in order of weirdness is a lot more fun.
1) “Mein Herz [My Heart]” by Pawnshop Orchestra (2006)
This music video is probably the most straightforward Fabuland animation out there. A cat and a goat are in love, but far apart. The goat overcomes distance and an octopus to be reunited with his true love. Short, sweet, and barely weird.
2) “Edward and Friends” by FilmFair (1987)
“Edward and Friends” was an officially licensed series to promote the Fabuland sets. However, rather than using actual Fabuland products, the characters are made of clay, allowing for a much greater range of expression. This series is standard kid show fare; each episode presents a small challenge that is overcome in a friendly manner. The only weirdness here is intrinsic to the Fabuland product line: it takes place in a Scarreyesque village of anthropomorphic animals. But as we all know, overly-cheerful facades often harbor horrible secrets. (There are plenty more episodes for those who want more.)
3) Nestlé Orzoro Commercial (1985)
In this frenetic 15-second commercial, a pig and a panda pull back a curtain to reveal a forest. In the forest, six Fabulanders pop out of a tree and wave before disappearing again. But the forest was just another curtain! Some characters fly through the air to place logos! Another curtain! Oh look, it’s the product! How did the pig get trapped inside? No time to worry about that, he’s saved by a parrot on a trapeze! Another curtain, everybody bows! What was that commercial about?
4) “Barney’s Cherry” by Thauka Kuki Team Entertainment (2012)
Even after watching this film half a dozen times, I’m not sure I’ve quite “solved” it. This animation is very clearly a riddle on multiple levels. Firstly, there is the riddle presented via intertitles, which the viewer is given time to ponder before being presented with an answer. However, that answer doesn’t really satisfy, and it’s clear that there are visual clues throughout that point to the real solution (the very first titlescreen makes sure we know this).
But even after I figured out that (highlight to reveal spoilers) Bonnie is cheating on Ed with Barney and actually wanted to free Barney, but was tricked by the statues watering the flowers, I still don’t understand why the horses on the side of the screen turn into different animals at 0:47, why the characters spend so much time looking at the sword and cherry, or what random flashes of light are all about. But because the film is well animated and has a good score, I don’t mind revisiting it again and again.
Warning: the following films contain objectionable content
5) “A day in the life of…” by Complesso Gasparo (2007)
Following the advice of a real-life chihuahua, a Fabuland monkey breaks the shackles of his buttoned-down life. He then proceeds to break-dance everywhere, deface a wall with obscene graffiti, take off his head, and attack a pig on a motorcycle.
6) “The Franky Job” by David M Pickett (2007)
It’s essentially a noir private-eye film, but at its core is laced with hidden subtexts of racism and bigotry. The film is at times humorous, thought-provoking, and disturbing, mixed together in a blend that would seem abstract (and is for the most part), but seems to come together somehow at the end.
7) “Fabuland” by Grégory Métay et Olivier Couëllant (2000)
This is the quintessential Fabuland animation and deserves 10 times as many views as it has. It features the most fully realized busy Fabuland town, and music and voice acting that perfectly fit the style of the characters. There’s a lot to admire here from an animation perspective; the swaying palm trees are my personal favorite. Despite not knowing French, I felt like I understood the story perfectly thanks to the great visual storytelling. But why did I put this as the weirdest animation? Let’s just say it takes some very surprising turns.
Honorable Mention: “The Fabuland Housewives” by Mark Larson
Though not animated, this hilarious webcomic by Mark Larson is an impressive feat that must have taken countless hours to script, design, photograph, and code. Like the ABC show that inspired it, it is chock full of scandal, gruesome murders, and shocking twists. However, it’s also uproariously funny and well worth a read if you’ve got a few hours to kill.
So what do you think? Why are Fabuland animations so weird (or did I exaggerate how weird they are)? Are there any major works I missed?