Film Review | The Chaperone (2013)

Film run-time: 13 minutes | Starring Ralph Whims, Stefan Czernatowicz
Directed by Fraser Munden, Written by Fraser Munden and Neil Rathbone, Produced by Michael Glasz

The Chaperone“, a 2013 short film by Fraser Munden, Neil Rathbone and Chris McMahon, is a flavourful recounting of a memorable incident at a Montreal school dance in the ’70s, narrated with gusto by those involved, and animated in a wide array of different art styles. A chaperone overseeing a middle school dance is confronted by a motorcycle gang who shows up uninvited.

Visualized through a dizzying melange of hand-drawn graphics, stop-frame claymation, live-action segments, pyrotechnics and puppetry, the film combines the anecdotal recollections of several witness accounts to produce an explosively inventive narrative, reframing the real events as impressionistic tall tales which subsume the pop cultural phenomena that permeated people’s lives.

Positioned as such, these tales take on the power of a legend, possessing a newfound mythical quality. Filtered through time and hyperbolic imagination, the men who were central to the events have the benefit of time to rediscover this idiosyncratic episode, as though it were a part of the cultural landscape that populated their past, like the blaxploitation and kung-fu cinema of the era.

As a reflection of the diversity of mind and the subjectivity of experience, a la the Rashomon effect, “The Chaperone” is an effective use of a host of storytelling techniques. These function not simply as enhancements that further a viewer’s enjoyment of the story, but they are also true to the spirit of what may otherwise be an abstemious retelling of a storied, shared mythos.

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