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  Harvie Krumpet Let's Hear It For The Little Guys
Year: 2003
Director: Adam Elliot
Stars: Geoffrey Rush, Julie Forsyth, Kamahl, John Flaus
Genre: Comedy, AnimatedBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Harvek Krumpetzki was born in Poland in 1922 into a poor family; his father was a lumberjack and his mother worked in a lead mine. As Harvie grew, he developed a twitch and a compulsion to touch things with an outstretched index finger, which meant he was diagnosed by the doctors with Tourette's Syndrome and was supposedly unable to control his impulses. Throughout his life, he would be misunderstood, undervalued and the victim of ill fortune, but a small spark of optimism kept him going...

Written by the director Adam Elliot, the Oscar-winning Harvie Krumpet ambitiously tells the story of one man's life in the space of little over twenty minutes, and all through the medium of stop motion animation. Harvie, as he comes to be known, is a man fashioned from modelling clay, apparently to look as cartoonish as possible, with large, round eyes and an expressive mouth - he soon goes completely bald, as well. The other characters follow the same appearance, leading the short film to resemble a quirky fairy tale, assisted in this by Geoffrey Rush's sympathetic, gentle narration.

Harvie was taken out of school as a child by his mother after being mercilessly bullied by the other kids, and she taught him herself, even though she couldn't read or write to any great degree. What she did was teach him facts, of which she had an impressive store of, and the information Harvie learns intermittently pops up on cards during the course of the drama, stuff like "elephants can't jump" at first, but gradually more pertinent to his experiences as he carries what he gathers around his neck in a book of "Fakts".

Every so often, things change dramatically for Harvie, as happens when his mother, increasingly insane, burns the house down which causes both his escaping parents to freeze to death in the snow. Then the Nazis invade, so our hero flees to Australia with the hope of starting again, and changes his name to Harvie Krumpet in an attempt to fit in, but alas everyone thinks he is "retarded". Events such as being knocked over and cracking his skull, meaning he now has a metal plate in his head, and being struck by lightning which magnetises the plate, only serve to deaden Harvie's sense of purpose, until one day he hears a statue talk to him: "Carpe Diem".

The message here seems to be "life's what you make it". The film begins with the old saying about some being born great, some achieving greatness and some having greatness thrust upon them, but Elliot is more concerned with the people who muddle through their existence not achieving anything much. Harvie goes on to get married, contract testicular cancer and adopt a child, and all this simply heads to a poignant dotage in a nursing home, but it's the little things that Harvie has done to make himself content that eventually satisfies him. The film is undeniably charming and makes a good impression, but a little too studied in its cutesiness, a little too pat in its conclusion. Nevertheless, it laudably never turns morose and is genuinely warm hearted and funny in a bittersweet way.

[Metrodome's excellent DVD of Harvie Krumpet includes audio commetaries from director Elliot, five additional short animations from him, character model shots and a storyboard featurette.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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