Short Films in Focus: "Turkey"

Harvey Benschoter’s animated quickie “Turkey” will surely bring to mind two things: the work of Terry Gilliam and the flurry of activity that comes with shopping for and preparing a Thanksgiving dinner. “Turkey” follows the Gilliam aesthetic of taking cut-outs of old photos and using them as props to create moments of silliness and absurdity. Whereas Gilliam used serious works of art and used them to create fart jokes and animated slapstick, Benschoter utilizes images from old catalogs and photos from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s and creates a fun, dizzying and playful collage of mass consumerism.

The film’s central “character” is a housewife first entering a grocery story and picking a turkey out from a seemingly random pile of off-color turkeys. Once home, she enjoys some day drinking, at which time her husband and two kids turn the household into a chase that goes through every room, followed by an ridiculous amount of mass carnage once the turkey carving begins. 

In three minutes, Benschoter creates a memorable and easily digestible short that goes a few extra miles with its panoramic view of the suburbs and grocery stories. Benschoter layers the moving images so that there is constant motion happening. There have been many short films over the years that have taken a less-is-more approach to this kind of animation, but Benschoter’s style is more rewarding for the eyes. It takes something seemingly mundane and presents it with the fluidity and speed of a intricately choreographed car chase. Benschoter clearly had a ball making it and the viewer will have fun watching it on repeat and sending the link to their friends, especially in late November.

TURKEY from Harvey Benschoter on Vimeo.

Collin Souter

Collin Souter has been reviewing films in Chicago for 14 years, most notably on WGN Radio where he has been a part of the movie review segment every week on The Nick Digilio Show.

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