Review: From Burger It Came (Sundance Short Film 2009)

From Burger It Came/ dir. Dominic Bisignano/ 7 mins/ 2008

fromburgerI have to hand it Dominic Bisignano. He made a film that is both all over the place (in terms of animation) yet at the same time clear and concise (in terms of message). 

From Burger It Came deals with the paranoia of AIDS back in the 1980s. A time when nobody had any idea what AIDS was, and had no idea how AIDS was contracted, spread, etc. 

The story starts out very simply; Kid eats mysterious burger from cafeteria, then has this sudden fear that he has gotten AIDS. The rest of time expands on the kid’s fear of AIDS.

The narration of  this story is set to American folk music and has 4 parts that are intertwined. One part is the first person account of the story. The second is the mother’s account of the paranoia. The third is a conversation between mother and child about the fear of AIDS. And the fourth part is a 1980s teacher educating a class on the popular ideas of AIDS during that time (many of which were very, VERY wrong). It seems like it would be confusing but all these parts converge to outline the fear of AIDS back in the 1980s and the folksy music give it that “what the f… is going on” type vibe.

To compliment the narration and music, the animation and visuals match the crazy nature of what people thought AIDS was back in the day. The style ranges from 2-D cut-outs (via Monty Python) to old 40’s style animation, to 3-D animation, to digital paint. And when viewing this film, your eyes are so bombarded with various images and cartoons that you can’t help but be confused. 

Hence the point of this 7 minute film. Discussing AIDS in the 1980s was practically useless. Add in the fear and paranoia of AIDS with the simple fact that hardly anyone knew anything about this disease during the 80s and you get confusing jumble of misguided images and messages. I, myself, never really knew about all this until Magic Johnson “retired” from the NBA because of the HIV virus. 

In my experience, to truly get this film, you have to watch it several times. I will admit, I threw my hands up at first viewing and thought “what was that?” In truth it is a very weird film. I expect nothing less from  Dominic Bisignano, a CalArts Experimental Animation student.

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