To Never Grow Up

Irina Pino

From the animated film Madagascar.

HAVANA TIMES — Cartoons are part of the world of children, but many adults still enjoy them and retain – or have not managed to tear themselves from – the innocence of their childhood. I confess I’ve never stopped liking them. I watch them alone or with my son, who’s already fifteen. We set the stage with cookies, juice or pop, cushion and two fans to freshen the room.

Humanizing animals and having them experience the ups-and-downs of people is one of the cleverest ways of making us sympathize with them. Madagascar, Beauty and the Beast, Over the Hedge, Ratatouille, Toy Story, Monsters Inc. and Ice Age show a refined sense of humor, but they also invite viewers to think and underscore essential values such as love, friendship and solidarity. All include a musical element: the characters sing during some parts of the film, and this makes them more interesting still.

The Pink Panther is good for getting rid of stress. After watching two or three episodes and having laughed your head off, you can start seeing things a different way.

Pinocchio, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella invite us to explore the world of fairies. Walt Disney’s adaptations have become classic films.

In the seventies, when I was a little girl, I usually watched cartoons from socialist countries. I recall Bolok and Lolek, the two brothers who traveled around the world (though I never did know whether they actually did so). One of them would spin a globe and, when it came to a stop, would place a finger at random on its surface…and that was the place they would go to. It was one adventure after the other, danger and difficulties followed them everywhere, but they managed to overcome these problems and succeed in their quests. Another favorite of mine was the Russian animated film The Frog Princess, which was about a young woman under a spell that would turn into a beautiful woman only at night. The prince, of course, had to overcome many obstacles to earn her love.

Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks was a very popular segment of the Huckleberry Hound Show which was divided into three parts. It followed the humorous adventures of these characters who were always getting into trouble. The dog kept changing jobs: his perseverance and optimism made him continue in his efforts, despite the fact he was something of an anti-hero.

Manga films already existed at the time and were screened in movie theaters. I recall that one dealt with dragons that would invade and destroy cities, tearing families apart. It had much dramatic tension and the characters were very well developed.

The decadence of Cuban cartoons is evident in the CG animated film Meñique, a failure from the point of view of the script, the inconsistency of the characters and the hotchpotch of different cultures, which makes the movie boring and too long.

By contrast, Japanese animated films continue to be strong in terms of quality and variety of genres. Isao Takahata’s 1988 Grave of the Fireflies was described as an anti-war film of the stature of The Pianist and Schindler’s List. According to critics, it is a masterpiece of animation. It’s become famous over the years and been acclaimed in many countries. Its most striking aspect is the human element of its story, portraying a love among siblings that rises above the painful events that transpire during a war.

After watching this moving story, I realized something: animated films can also make us cry.