A special valentines day cartoon I came across today that is sure to put a smile on your face: Ah, L’Amour by Don Hertzfeldt.
“Ah, L’Amour” (1995) was produced during Don’s freshman year at UC Santa Barbara for a beginning production class, and was never intended to be screened publicly. The two minute 16mm short was somehow completed in just a few weeks despite Don having had little experience working with film; made most noticeable by the visible fingerprints all over the camera lens. By no small miracle, Don’s shaky guitar soundtrack — recorded solo in his dorm room on a broken down boom-box — somehow stayed in sync.”
The movie initially saw limited action at film festivals because Don was embarassed by it. He was also afraid of being pelted with rocks by angry women, until screenings revealed that women usually cheered very loudly for the cartoon girls, and always applauded much louder than the men.
A few of the “evil women” in the film are crude caricatures of some of Don’s ex-girlfriends – drawn not so much out of bitterness but from the fact that he was running out of different hair styles to think up. No one could tell that Don drew caricatures because you can barely tell that Don drew people.
Luckily, the incredibly grungy look of the movie plays into its frustrated energy, so it appears as if it was made to look bad on purpose. Don usually stays very quiet whenever this is brought up.
“Ah, L’Amour” became a wildly popular cult film that gave Don the shot in the arm to begin pre-production on Genre. “L’Amour” was still playing the midnight movie circuit in 1998 when it was awarded the World Animation Celebration – HBO Comedy Arts Festival Grand Prize Award for the “World’s Funniest Cartoon” – and it continued to rerun at animation festivals for several years after.
Midnight audiences began a tradition of chanting along in loud unison to the cartoon’s dialogue captions – all the men chanting aloud the man’s lines, and the women chanting along with the women’s. It’s very spooky.
Our studio name, Bitter Films, comes from this film’s opening caption, “A Bitter Film by Don Hertzfeldt.