Premise: Film Screening | Mary & Max [1]

Film Review [1] | 'Mary and Max'
Fig. 1
The 'bitter-sweet' Claymation of Adam Elliot's 'Mary and Max' (2009), follows the story of an unusual, yet supportive pen-pal relationship between 44 year-old New-York man with Asperger's; Max,  and a young 8-year old girl living in Mount Waverley, Australia.
Mary (lonely and neglected by her parents, and  bullied at school), and the reclusive Max, (whose Asperger's makes socialising confusing), find safety and support in one another's letters.

The core themes around isolation, mental health and companionship within life, are an ever present reminder that persists in both the humorous, and more poignant/macabre moments of the film.
They are also relevant to Adam Elliot himself, whose history of previous films and their unique "homemade-looking" (Buckmaster, 2014) style, works in par with his personal interpretation of Asperger's, from his own experiences 20 year pen-pal relationship with an Jewish American living in New York.  There's a definite presence of the 'author' throughout the entirety of the film with the look "present in virtually any shot of any of his creations form any of his films".
The distinctive "chunky wonky style, with it's crooked lines and grungy aesthetic" ('Australian Centre For The Moving Image', 2010), also works with the theme of real life with all it's flaws, in alcoholism, neglect and problematic social connections. Similar to how life is approached bluntly in 'Mary and Max', the look mirrors this view also.

Fig. 2
Additionally, Mary exists as the alter ego of Elliot, drawing from his own ideas around Australian communities ("her environment was very similar to my own childhood experience"1), and work ("as a filmmaker, I feel like I'm on the fringes"1- living closer to Antarctica, than any other continent makes sit harder to find anyone else similarly working in his niche nearby).
However there is definite leeway in the films accuracy to allow for obvious imagination; Elliot believes he shouldn't "the truth get in the way of a good story".
Despite the challenge during the films production (with a limited budget that restricted the team from the resources and "wonderful facilities that these other studios like Aardman and Laika" 1 had), 'Mary and Max' allowed for a more self-driven project for Elliot. He states it's "more like a painting, I suppose"1, and the fact that a cinema with 300 people is enjoying something he worked on for 5 years, wherein he "didn't have to homogenize anything, I didn't have to water anything down" (1Elliot, 2009), is argued by Elliot as a rewarding aspect of the films production. 
It was an incredibly long process (five years in the making), with all the work involved for such a small group, and acquiring the independent voice actors.

At the time of release the film received extremely positive reviews, and is now renowned as a "distinctive" (Buckmaster, 2014), gem of the stop motion world. Despite coming from a quite obscure source of creativity, upon it's release the film went on to receive the 'Annecy International Animation Film Festival Cristal Award for Best Feature', the 'Australian Directors Guild Award for Best Direction in a Feature Film', and the 'Ottawa International Animation Festival Grand Prize', along with a smattering of others beyond Australia from the western world across to Asia.
Elliot had received lots of offers from Hollywood to participate in other people's projects, but he found personally that he'd preferred to work on his content, with the freedom to create what he wants.

It's recognised along with his other work as sharing a "sense of national identity, in a manner similar to the distinctly British politeness of ''Wallace & Gromit'" (Mitchell, 2011), with numerous bold topics approached with an often humorous and endearing quality.
Incidentally Elliot has been recognised as "an important figure in contemporary Australian film and culture" (Mitchell, 2011). 

Fig. 1 'Mary and Max Poster', (2009), [Online Image]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 25/01/2018]
Fig. 2 'Mary and Max Behind the Scenes', (Unknown), [Online Image]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 25/01/2018]
'ACMI: Australian Centre For The Moving Image', (2010), "Adam Elliot on the animation process", [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 25/01/2018]. 
Buckmaster, Luke (2014), "Mary and Max: rewatching classic Australian films", [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 25/01/2018]
Byrnes, Paul (2009), "Review- Mary and Max", [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 25/01/2018]
Desowitz, Bill (2009), "'Mary and Max': Elliot and Clayography", [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 25/01/2018]
Mitchell, Ben (2011), "A Conversation With Adam Elliot", [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 25/01/2018]
Pond, Steve (2009), "The Weird Brilliance of 'Mary and Max'", [Online]. Available at: [Accessed Date: 25/01/2018]


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