Grand Rapids Press:

Morse on cutting edge of filmmaking

November 9, 2001

Morse on cutting edge of filmmaking

by John Douglas, The Grand Rapids Press

I have been reviewing the film and video works of Deanna Morse since I started reviewing for The Press in 1977.  It has always been joy to get a call from Morse, a professor in Grand Valley State University’s School of Communications, with news of a completed film. Her work is always a delight to view.

Now, through the magic of DVD, Morse’s work is collected and put on to a DVD disc.  You’ll find 36 short films included on the DVD along with a lot of other goodies never before seen by those of us who admire her work.

Presentation of these films is charming.  Each menu has a gentle and unobtrusive sound of birds that you can listen to as you decide where to go next.  And the visual elements of the menus are well above average presentation.

I went right to “Charleston Home Movie,” which is not only my favorite Morse film but one of my favorite films, period.  It is an absolutely wonderful animated film that presents Morse’s memories of a time spent in Charleston, S.C.  This film, by the way, is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. 

I am tempted to call Morse an animator, and certainly animation is a major element in this collection.  I prefer to call her a manipulator of images.  Even in her live action films, there is an abstraction of reality usually through manipulation of movement.  But Morse actually messes round with all the visual elements here and there.

“MOVE-CLICK-MOVE” is unique in that Morse presents many different kinds of animation from traditional cel animation to computer animation and everything in between, including cut paper and time-lapse photography.

Some of the extras on the DVD include behind-the-scenes slide shows about some of the productions or about the philosophy of the content. She also uses the “Angle” feature to allow you to compare some of the finished films to original storyboards. 

When push comes to shove, what I really like about Morse’s work is she is always pushing the medium.  She never seems so to do the same things twice.  The art of film is still in its infancy and no one tries to help the cinema grow up more than Morse.

Thursday’s public premiere at GVSU’s Loosemore Auditorium is a unique opportunity for people who love film to meet with someone who is pushing an art form to its limits.  West Michigan should rejoice that Morse makes her home and performs her work in this community.

Douglas, John, “Morse on cutting edge of filmmaking,”  The Grand Rapids Press, Friday, November 9, 2001 page C3

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