'Closed Mondays' by Bob Gardiner & Will Vinton (Classic Animation Frames)

Closed Mondays animation still by Bob Gardiner & Will Vinton

'Closed Mondays' was the animation short that launched the career of Will Vinton, a unique representative of clay motion animation in the United States for almost 30 years, producing short animation works like 'Rip Van Winkler' (1978), 'The Great Cognito' (1982) and features like his magnum opus 'The Adventures of Mark Twain' (1985). 

The 'claymation' technique (a term he patented) was used in the film, itself a result of his collaboration with Bob Gardiner. Will Vinton had studied architecture, and Gardiner was his colleague at the California College of Arts. They both created 'Closed Sundays', a film that would eventually win the award for Best Animated Short at the Academy Awards 1975 (Check the comments for a story about Gardiner's and Vinton's distinct roles in the film).

The story is about a drunk person who visits a museum (museums are traditionally closed on Mondays). Gardiner & Vinton make fun of the regular US everyman who, in turn, makes fun of what they cannot understand. Abstract painting becomes a series of notes and melodies, a Henri Rousseau jungle becomes alive, and a maid coming directly from the Dutch painters is continuously scrubbing the floor -hoping for redemption.

And in the middle of all this, a kinetic-computing machine, the epicenter and the best-animated part of the film. Here is where you can see the clay melting in its towering effect, and the inventiveness of moving from the Einstein face to simple clay, a parable about our origin and future mutations.

The drunkard himself is fittingly animated. His eyes and face roll in asynchrony, defying any realistic concerns, but very close to the film's character conception. The ending looks as proper as it should be, considering both the medium (clay) and the drunken character.

'Closed Mondays took fourteen months to complete, with Vinton shooting first a reference film to get the movements right (the voice actors performed first in front of the camera).   The result was the beginning of a big independent career move for Will Vinton, who established his own Will Vinton Studios in 1975 (Laika with 'Coraline' and 'Paranorman' continues the stop-motion tradition in Portland, Oregon).

Here is a restoration attempt at the classic film to watch. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has included 'Closed Mondays' in its preservation slate in 2012, to be restored and digitized. Let's hope for the best.

Watch a clip from the original 1975 Academy Award ceremony with a Will Vinton intro:

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