While reading up on the theme of isolation I came across this delightful Yvon Mallette directed NFB animated film. The Family That Dwelt Apart is an adaptation of an E.B. White short story. You may know him as the author of Charlotte’s Web or Stuart Little. Although the story is set in the Northeast United States, the setting could easily be anywhere in Canada. The film has a dark sense of humour. The use of jazz in the soundtrack adds pace to the playful animation. The 1960’s and 70’s era of animation have a distinct style that is instantly recognizable. The animators generally created a world bordering on the surreal, but with enough reality to make people, places, and objects recognizable.
On the theme of isolation, this film highlights what might be one of the potential problems of withdrawing from society. In this family’s case, other people decided that help should try to reach their island. The end result is somewhat funny and somewhat tragic. In real life people who isolate themselves may at first illicit a sympathetic reaction from others (if anyone is around to notice) but ultimately they may become completely alienated from everyone. While this could lead tothe kind of gossiping we find in the film, it likely won’t produce the same response. Obviously, this comparison is a rational leap, but it does contribute to a discussion of intentional isolation.