Yesterday was quite a dismal day. Stuck at home due to the weather,, at about four I was mucking around on Youtube when I came across a video about Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I was fairly dismissive of it at first, but it looked at how influential the film was in terms of film history, arguing that it more or less lead to a revolution in animation. It aroused my interest enough that I thought I would try to check the original film out – I reckoned I needed a bit of cheering up anyway.
I found Who Framed Roger Rabbit on Disney Plus (thanks Luke) and settled down to watch it. I vaguely remember watching it at home with my parents and brothers when I was six or so, but I don’t think I had seen it since then. I expected to be watching a children’s film, but soon realised Who Framed Roger Rabbit was far, far more interesting. While on the surface it was fairly lightweight and slapstick, it was obvious there were some pretty serious themes running through the film: most obvious, perhaps, was the clear cultural division between humans and toons, and the way in which humans treated toons as second class citizens being a metaphor for racism. On top of that, as demonstrated in this very good piece of analysis, when you watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit as an adult, you quickly find it is anything but a children’s film.As well as the fact that the dialogue is replete with double entendre, there are references to things like alcoholism, sex and violence children simply would not pick up upon, yet which are quite overt to grown up viewers.
I found the way in which this film thus worked on two separate levels intriguing, as well as the interplay between live action and animation. Who Framed Roger Rabbit might ostensibly be a children’s film, but it’s a very interesting piece of cinematic art: comic, slapstick but with noirish overtones and quite a serious subtext about prejudice and oppression. Not having seen it since I was about six, it was a great way to cheer up on an otherwise fairly miserable afternoon; yet, viewed as a work of art, there is a hell of a lot to explore about this film. I must admit I was quite taken with it, and now intend to look deeper.