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Seminar 4D: Documentary Animation

Life, Animated is a documentary animation that is about the life of Owen Suskind. Owen did not have the ability to speak properly as a child until it was noticed that the only way to communicate with him was through imitating and echoing the characters of classic animated Disney movies. The documentary depicts Owen’s story of learning how to speak and grow up to become independent.

The documentary constantly uses animation as a way of showing insights to Owen’s speaking. The animation shown during the documentary is almost completely black and white, silent and is very slow. It almost matches the words of the interviewee, so that the audience doesn’t get too lost with the visuals. It is almost like watching storyboards of an upcoming Disney animated movie. For example, in an interview, Owen’s father talks in detail about the first experience of hearing Owen speak in the context of the Disney animation side-kick character, Lago. The visual animation displays young Owen sitting on his bed busily drawing while a Lago puppet lays on the floor waiting to be picked up by Owen’s father. Owen’s father uses this puppet to imitate Lago’s character from the Disney movie, Aladdin, in order to speak with Owen, who surprisingly answers back. Other animation scenes such as this moment depicts the situation exact and shares the family’s emotion with the audience by making them feel like they are a part of the entire experience.

In terms of truth claims and modes of signs, as mentioned by the lecturer, Becky, the animations visualized in Live, Animated are al depictions of characters from Disney animation films as well as real life, Owen. Most of the visuals are therefore in indexical or iconic forms.


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