Animated Conversations: Michel Gondry Illustrates Noam Chomsky's Ideas by Hand in New Doc

Films have the ability to transport us into other worlds; sometimes those worlds bear a striking resemblance to the one we live in every day, and other times they dwell in the surreal. One of the greatest filmmakers to teeter his films along this line is Michel Gondry, director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep, and his latest project, a documentary featuring modern philosopher Noam Chomsky, walks that same line. Gondry takes us behind the scenes in a video by The Creators Project and details how he utilized stop motion techniques to animate his conversation with the "father of modern linguistics."

Gondry's Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy? is made up of several interviews between the director and Chomsky, in which, according to The Creators Project, the philosopher shares his "musings on philosophy, language, life, and love." Check out the trailer to the documentary below:

Video is no longer available:

The documentary is quite a change from the director's usual narrative fare in that it features animation. Chomsky's ideas are brought to life with a 16mm Arriflex and Gondry's hand-drawn animations, which he completed in his Brooklyn brownstone over a three-year period. The Creator's Project explains his process:

Utilizing traditional stop-motion techniques, Gondry started with a simple dot for an anchor before step-by-step building a full drawing--shooting and reshooting the stills on 16mm. With the exception of simple, post-production chroma keying--the entirety of the movie was shot using innovative practical camera tricks, rather than CG or VFX.

It's incredible to see Gondry's dedication to produce the world he envisioned would be most conducive to the expression of Chomsky's ideas. A director of his stature, who has access to the best cinematic tools, chose and stuck with a traditional -- and antiquated -- form of storytelling, because it best fit his vision.

What do you think of Gondry's technique? Let us know in the comments.

Link: Michel Gondry Brings Us On An Animated Journey Through The Mind Of Noam Chomsky -- The Creators Project

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Your Comment


Hey V, in the making of video, he is using a Bolex not an Arriflex. Check at 6:50.

December 14, 2013 at 5:02PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


I'm pretty sure he was using an Arriflex in the actually making of the film -- at least that's what I read.

December 14, 2013 at 6:15PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM

V Renée
Content Manager at Coverfly

V, in the film Gondry mentions he is using his old Bolex though :)

December 15, 2013 at 12:30AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


This man has been a hero of mine from the time I saw his crazy music video "Walkie Talkie Man". Anyone with an interest in stop motion will be well rewarded by studying this dude.

December 20, 2013 at 2:54AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM

Peter Gell