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Kenya's Symphony (Directed by Carlos Douglas Jr)

Some man-made constructions are of such a broad scope that it is difficult to start talking about them. The medium of animation is one of them. It can be examined from different respects and angles, each of which leading to a range of new subjects. It is both an art and an industry, a hobby and a form of education. It can be a good way to teach children primary basic human values, or an opportunity to make adults a gateway to imagination, it can be just fun or it can promote a way of thinking.

"Kenya's Symphony" is a short animation by Carlos Douglas Jr. in which everything is conveyed to the viewers through what they see and hear. Music plays a pivotal role in this short, and from the very first scenes, when all the audiences are in the hall and the conductor enters, the stage is set for music. Through the spectacular combination of the conductor’s hand movements and sounds, viewers set foot in a realm that the animation beautifully unfolds: the realm of imagination and dreams. Carlos Douglas Jr. gracefully depicts the audience in the auditorium enjoying the music, and the musicians performing stunning pieces for us. The director knows very well how to concentrate on creating the right atmosphere by making proper use of these details.

"Kenya's Symphony" makes a captivating introduction into the universe of the film to advance its story. The story that is cleverly crafted at the beginning (that is, the child's stubbornness not to come to the concert) now proceeds after the performance begins. The child, bored with the concert, starts fidgeting and annoying the spectators. The director delicately manages to integrate storytelling and teaching as the story goes on. The educational aspect of the animation mainly aims at educating the viewers on the relationship between children and music. Furthermore, children’s presence in society and sociological views of child rearing are artistically embedded in these fun scenes. The little girl, who has so far been throwing paper to others with a small tube, suddenly realizes that her small tube used as a tool to harass others, can also be used to make beautiful sounds. She, at the same time, sees a clarinet player on the stage producing pleasant sounds with an instrument similar to hers, and is fascinated by this resemblance.

Carlos Douglas Jr. has brilliantly pointed out the importance of children’s indirect education, and since he is apparently well aware of the great impacts of indirect education on children’s souls, he himself has enticingly done so in his short animation by dramatizing how putting children in creative environments helps them to learn freely and willingly, and how children find their wildest dreams for the future, quite unconsciously, in the midst of one of these indirect lessons.

“Kenya's Symphony” can also be regarded as a successful example of design and execution. The color combination clearly and effectively communicates what the director intends (for example, compare the color combination difference between the girl’s dream season with the opening scene). This is also true about the characterization. Relying heavily on the characters' facial expressions and body language as tools to narrate the story, the short has easily dispensed with words, and it is through these tools that the mother and

daughter communicate. The mother’s forbidding the girl's mischievous behavior, the girl's indifference to the formal and serious atmosphere of the concert, and finally even the girl's dream of herself as a future musician are all conveyed through this visual sign system. The director's use of pieces by Michael Von Bodegom Smith can be a shining example for all animators who want the sound tape to play an essential role in the animation.

“Kenya's Symphony” manages to tell a simple but fascinating story in such a short time (four minutes) that it is both entertaining and enlightening. It benefits from timely, proper, and proportionate use of all the elements for imparting its didactic messages. The rhythm is never interrupted or slows down, the animation is concise, and dramatizes the deep connection of children with the world around them coherently and admirably.


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