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Mill, The (1992)

Courtesy of Channel Four Television

Main image of Mill, The (1992)
35mm, 8 minutes, colour, animation
DirectorPetra Freeman
Production CompanyRichard Taylor Cartoon Films
SponsorsChannel 4
 British Film Institute

A young girl journeys through a strange landscape of dream and memory.

Show full synopsis

The Mill is an illustration of a train of thought, a journey through selected memories.

A young girl is picked up by a swarm of bees and taken inside a hive, where she discovers a world of wonder and mystery. Animator Petra Freeman explains that "curiosity leads a girl to explore the place where her own imagination is created", but is unwilling to say too much about the symbolism in her work: "I feel if I say what I think then that limits other people's ideas about it." The animated images move fluidly to a soundtrack of sound effects and music from Sofia Gubaidulina's 'Offertorium'.

Freeman creates dreamlike images that blend into one another and carry the viewer effortlessly through the film. Her chosen technique is painting on glass. Oil paint is used to create an image on a backlit glass, which is then photographed. With each successive frame, the animator moves the oil paint a little, allowing the images to metamorphose. Different layers of glass may be used to keep the different colours or layers of oil apart. In this way the animator can both create multiple levels and speed up the working process.

This strange and magical film, made as part of the Animator in Residence scheme funded by Channel 4 and the British Film Institute, won Freeman the Debut Prize at the 1992 Hiroshima Film Festival.

Caren Willig

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Video Clips
1. Extract (3:14)
Complete film (7:09)
Channel 4 and Animation
Women's Animation