I found this yesterday: three of Mark Baker's animated shorts, animation at its finest, have been made available in his website and YouTube channel: https://www.markbakerfilms.com/
The films are beautifully restored in 4K. According to the credits, the restorations were made in 2016. The videos were released on YouTube last October (2021). At that time I was so hyped with Woody Woodpecker, Tex Avery v3 and Columbia Classics v2 that I didn't check out this material, because I didn't search for it.
The Hill Farm is one of my favorite animated shorts. Yesterday I made time to appreciate it again, finally in great quality (the transfer previously available on the internet was probably from a VHS rip). It's a film that touches me very deeply. I got genuinely emotional at the end when I watched it again - didn't cry but got chills. Depending on one's personal taste, the cartoon may be just a mundane mute arthouse short about boring stuff. For me the beauty of the film resides precisely on the down-to-earth atmosphere.
Mark Baker's webpage includes a making-off where he wrote: "The location of the Hill Farm is based on a real house in France. I spent many happy long summers there as a child." I can get similar feelings with regards to fond memories on rural sites. I don't know if his intention was to exactly praise nature and the farmer characters - the ending of the short depicts a return to status quo, everyone just went back to do what they always do, right or wrong, no lessons learned - that to me seems to be the point of the story. The farmers don't change their way of managing the natural resources - before the storm, they run out of water, and even after the storm they don't reflect about how their actions may have caused that.
But naturalist and bucolic art touches me in an unmatched way. I get similar feelings from Disney's "The Old Mill". It's a quintessential sense of life and natural order, like, the animals will eat and reproduce, the predators will always be lurking and you have to be prepared for confrontation; in Mark Baker's words "The animals have to be fed continuously, watered, milked and protected". You go to sleep with your family peacefully knowing that's the way the world works, always has been and always will be. Campers and hunters change things for worse and break a relatively harmonious and stable environment, only to look for shelter in the farmhouse they didn't build, when storm breaks. They come and go, and life goes on as always - even if you can see the farmers as flawed because they keep managing the water supply the same way as before, the hunters and most notably the campers are the most detached from the natural order, the farmhouse was built by the farmers after all, the campers' tent collapses, one of the campers overreacts fainting at normal events (unprepared for regular life tasks) and the hunters bring the bear to the door of the farmhouse. Again, this is just my personal interpretation, that obviously may be different than Baker's vision. The point is, I consider myself a naturalist; such aesthetic resonates with me like nothing else. And the fact the film is animated intensifies my feelings - animation strikes me deep like no live-action stuff is able to.
Another Mark Baker film I watched back in 2019 was "The Village", that's a tale of suspense on how, in social life, each person judges the actions of the others. Great film. Check these out, strongly recommended.
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I always come to TTTP in Exile in the hope of finding news about Warner announcing Tex Avery Collection.