The Cosmic Eye
By Charles Solomon
Beginning in the mid-'50s, the husband-and-wife team of John and Faith Hubley broke new ground in animation with their explorations of complex ideas, cutting-edge graphics, and jazz soundtracks. When jazz was still largely marginalized as an art form in America, the Hubleys worked with Quincy Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Carter, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, and Lionel Hampton. For visual inspiration, they looked to the paintings of Picasso, Matisse, Miro, Klee, and Modigliani. Their short films are very different from Hollywood cartoons. The translucent, semi-abstract figures who embrace in The Tender Game suggest the emotions of two young lovers, rather than their physical motions. In Adventures of an *, a child and his father shift between stylized humans forms and patterns of lines as they explore their evolving relationship. The Academy Award-winning The Hole, a debate between two construction workers on the folly of the nuclear arms race, features improvised dialogue by Dizzie Gillespie and George Mathews. Faith Hubley's The Cosmic Eye is a feature-length compilation of earlier material, linked with new animation. The Hubley films are adult in the best sense of the word: not sexually explicit or gruesomely violent, but thoughtful, imaginative reflections on serious themes.