Music From the Soul

Siri Melchior's Whistleless, a short animated film for pre-schoolers, is a colourful fable bursting with music and joy – about a poor little bird who can't whistle, but learns how once he stops listening to everyone's well-meant advice.

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A songbird that can't whistle? No way! But sure enough, try as he might, Fløjteløs the eponymous avian hero of Siri Melchior's animated short, just can't figure out how to whistle. Flittering around a vibrantly colourful city alive with music, the little bird tries to learn how from a small girl, a man in the shower, a tiger, even a policeman with his whistle. All to no avail, until finally, Fløjteløs flies high up into the sky, fills his lungs with air and, lo and behold, a beautiful tune comes out his beak.

"When everyone else is able to do something you can't do, you feel left out. (”¦) That can be so annoying. The film's message is: if you stick with it, eventually you'll learn." Siri Melchior

The frustration of not being able to do something everyone else masters – whether it's whistling or riding a bicycle – is a feeling most children will recognise, the director says.

"When everyone else is able to do something you can't do, you feel left out. Maybe your big brother knows how to do something and is always trying to teach you how. That can be so annoying. The film's message is: if you stick with it, eventually you'll learn," she says.

Learning in Your Own Way

Fløjteløs does learn how to whistle, but only after he stops listening to everyone's advice and finds the melody within.

"In the end, he decides to believe in himself. He just takes an enormous breath and belts it out. At last he is able to whistle – because he's doing it in his own way," Melchior says.

"Before he gets there, he tries to cheat by stealing a policeman's whistle – it's tempting to cheat when you have to learn something that's a bit difficult. But then he realises that's not the way to go. Stealing a whistle isn't the same as really whistling."

Music, Joy & Potato Prints

Even though the little bird is sad that he can't whistle, Melchior says her film is mainly about music and joy, giving kids a chance to enjoy music, colour and fun characters.

"It's a story for two-to-four-year-olds. It's a colourful and joyful film about music and beauty. When the bird learns how to whistle, it sounds really beautiful," Melchior says. "The film is a lot about just enjoying the music. When my own daughter, who is two and a half, watches the film, she tries to move like the policeman. When she looks at the bird, she blows air out her mouth and tries to whistle. She laughs at things like when the man in the shower falls down.

Small children love the simple things.

"Apart from that, I hope kids will think that, if the bird can learn how to whistle, they too can learn to do whatever they want. "

Melchior created the film's naïve style by scanning potato prints into the computer and drawing on top of them in Flash.

"I made many different prints of the same characters to make them more animate" Melchior says. "There's a limit to how advanced the animation can be when you use potato prints. The style is very graphic and a little 1950's inspired."

Facts

Siri Melchior

Born 1971, Copenhagen. Graduate in animation from the royal College of Art, London, 1999, in graphic design from Danmarks Designskole, 1995 and received her B.A. in Art history from Copenhagen University, 1991. Melchior is noted for her awardwinning animated films: "The Dog Who was a Cat Inside" (2002) and "Passport" (1999), both were in the running for a Cartoon d'or. Together with two colleagues from the royal College, she created the animation company Trunk studio, producing works for Channel 4, BBC scotland, MTV, Domino records and Virgin. Melchior's short animation "Whistleless" is selected for Berlinale's Generation.

Dansk Tegnefilm

Denmark's grand master of animation Jannik hastrup founded the company Dansk Tegnefilm in 1976. Producer Marie Bro joined him in 1985. Their successful collaboration led to a partnership in 1996. Throughout the years the company has maintained its financial independency. It is both the aim and the strength of the company to produce original, stories, giving wings to fantasy and creating pictures of the unreal found in the real world. The main focus is on animated quality films for children and the films include many critical acclaimed and award-winning features, such as "Samson & Sally" (1984), "War of the Birds" (1990), "Cirkeline – Mice and Romance" (2000), "The Boy who wanted to be a Bear" (2003).

Contact

DFI-FILM Issue 

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Anders Budtz-Jørgensen
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