The Simpsons: Tales from the Public Domain (2002)

Season 13, Episode 14 (#283); English

Can be purchased for viewing on youtube:

This three-part episode of The Simpsons features perhaps the best known of all animated treatments of Homer’s Odyssey. Entitled “D’oh, Brother Where Art Thou?”, this seven-minute retelling begins with the ruse of the Trojan Horse and the sack of Troy. Of course, Homer Simpson takes on the role of the hero and the show’s well-known cast of characters are placed in roles that suit their personalities (e.g., Patty and Selma as the Sirens; Disco Stu as a suitor). As expected, the humor is clever and satirical, with jokes that are mainly intelligible to an adult audience, such as the band Styx’s song “Lady” playing as Homer/Odysseus travels through the Underworld, exclaiming “This truly is Hell!” The humor is also suggestive at times: the suitor “Discus Stu,” for example, appears to proposition Bart/Telemachus in a nod to the ancient Greek practice of pederasty. 


Styx (2007)

no dialog; 9 min; creator: Aike Arndt

A comic and clever story about crossing the River Styx and the challenges that Charon encounters as does the work of ferrying souls. Featuring a cute dog!

A German student-created animation project that was nominated for the 2008 German Shortfilm Award.

Trashy Humour: A Comedy in Fragments (2016)

30 seconds; prod. Acme Filmworks / Greg Holfield

This very short film is based on the contents of P. Oxy 5189, a fragment of a 6th c. CE Greek mime that was preserved on papyrus and discovered in the town of Oxyrhynchus in Egypt.

This animation was conceived of and produced as part of a project entitled “Broken Scenes: Resurrecting Ancient Fragmented Voices Through Animation” that was sponsored by the University of Oxford Department of Papyrology. The aim was to explore animation as medium that can help scholars “reconstruct ancient popular performances, as a way of re-inventing the text for further study or teaching.” A fuller account of the project’s origins and aims can be found here:

Manga Fairy Tales of the World: Narcissus and Echo [まんが世界昔ばなし: ナルシスとエコー] (1978)

Episode 87A, released on 05/31/1978, 11 min.; English dub

In this Japanese series also known as ‘Manga Sekai Mukashibanashi’ (produced from 1976 to 1979), each episode depicts a famous fairy tale from all around the world. The Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses is the source for this tragic tale of transformation.

The series was released under many names in English, including “Tales of Magic,” “Merlin’s Cave” and “Wonderful, Wonderful Tales From Around the World.”

Harpya (1979)

9 min.; Belgium; director: Raoul Servais; no dialog

Winner of the 1979 Palme d’Or for Best Short Film at the Cannes Film Festival

In this unsettling black comedy that verges on horror, a man on an evening stroll encounters a harpy and “rescues” it from an assault. He then takes it home with him where it begins to torment him by eating all of his food and eventually by eating his legs. After a near escape, the Harpy finds the man and assaults him, only to be “rescued” again by a policeman who intervenes.

Servais on this film: “Harpya was my first attempt to combine live action images with animation. The live actors had to be incorporated in graphical backgrounds, for which I had to invent my own technique at the time. The result was rather satisfying, but very time consuming, because it really was limited to a one person’s job. I guess Harpya will remain the only film ever made in this technique.”

Terry Toons: “Sour Grapes” (1950)

7 min.; dir. Manny Davis

This Terry Toon short was inspired by Aesop’s fable “The Fox and the Grapes,” and is a sequel of sorts to 1950’s “Aesop’s Fable: Foiling the Fox.” Watch as the trickster Dingbat entices Foxy Fox to read the fable, which says the fox tried “in vain” to get the grapes. This fires up the Fox and several classic hilarious gags ensue as he tries and fails to retrieve the grapes that Dingbat has nailed to the top of a tree. Unlike in the fable, he is successful at getting them in the end, only to find that the grapes are sour.

The Modern Cyclops [Der moderne Zyklop] (2002)

Germany; 11 min; director/writer: Daniel Nocke; Studio FILM BILDER

From the Studio FILM BILDER site: “Is the present-day Cyclops a dangerous monster or a sensitive artist? A group of German tourists express a variety of opinions. Mr. and Mrs. Petersen decide to find out for themselves, and experience a few surprises.”

Awards: Silver Prize in Animation, Expo Film and Video Shorts, New York, 2003 First Prize of the Jury, Film Festival Landshut, 2003 Second prize for short film, exground, Wiesbaden, 2003 Best animated film of the national competition, Filmfest Dresden, 2002 Third prize, Cinema Concetta, Ruesselsheim, 2002 Best short film, Filmfest Schwerin, 2002 First prize, category 5-10 min, Krok Festival, Moscow / St. Petersburg, 2015 Special Jury Mention, Countryside Animafest Cyprus, 2015 Special Mention, Animafest Zagreb, Croatia, 2015 Special Mention, Monstra, Lisboa, Portugal, 2015 “Short Tiger”, Filmförderungsanstalt Berlin, 2015

“Broken and Beautiful” from Don’t Eat the Pictures: Sesame Street at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1983)

PBS; one-hour special

The Sesame Street characters get locked inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art overnight while looking for Big Bird in this one-hour special. The narrative centers on an Egyptian prince named Sahu whom Big Bird and Snuffy meet in the Egyptian art exhibit. He seeks to be reunited with his parents in the form of a star but cannot answer the question posed to him each night by a demon: “Where does today meet yesterday?”

After discovering the answer is “a museum,” Sahu summons Osiris and undergoes the “weighing of the heart ” ceremony of the deceased (see second video). His heart is too heavy, but Big Bird intervenes, and Sahu is reunited with his parents as stars in the sky.

In the midst of this narrative the other characters explore the many exhibits of the museum. Oscar the Grouch discovers a gallery of Greek and Roman statues in their broken and fragmentary state. He sings “Broken and Beautiful” as a celebration of their beauty — the most beautiful trash he’s ever seen — and their value to him.


Venus [Венера] (1991)

2 min.; Russian; dir. Anatoly Reznikov; Soyuztelefilm; no dialog

A group of men attempt to make improvements to the statue of Venus de Milo. The efforts are unsuccessful and an act of nature restores the statue to its original, imperfect yet beautiful state.

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