A comically wrenching tale of passion on the plane, legendary animator and director Chuck Jones' adaptation of the classic children's book hides its geometry in romance, wherein the simplest forms suffer hardest for love.
One of the last animated shorts MGM would ever release, The Dot and the Line was the collaborative effort of its producer/director and the writer responsible for the original story and screenplay, author and illustrator Norton Juster, best known for The Phantom Tollbooth. Breaking with the cheeky slapstick of Looney Tunes for a sophisticated combination of academic instruction, art, and humor, Jones realized Juster's drama-in-shapes as a 2D object lesson in emotion.
Chuck Jones' contribution to popular American animation is immeasurable. Working at every major studio at some point in his career, Jones' accomplishments in illustration list lengthily: creator of Pepé Le Pew, Wile E. Coyote and The Roadrunner; director of Warner Bros. shorts featuring Bugs Bunny and his brethren; director of Tom and Jerry features, and later the Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and A Cricket in Times Square specials, etc.... Jones' version of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a holiday institution, with TV tradition now as necessary to American Christmas as the tree and tinsel. Branding and marketing have made his creations into international phenomena and perennial pop symbols in the decades since their inceptions.
His characters may be plastered onto sweatshop-made, ass-bedazzled Wal-Mart sweatsuits, but Jones' work is unmistakably art. That it entertains is incidental, but often discredits the director. While the Library of Congress frantically votes to preserve as much of his output as they can annually, Jones' import can be diminished by his cultural saturation. Defending images found more often on Trapper Keepers than in museums as art is difficult and presents unanswerable questions. Does popularity negate artiness? Where is the high art/low art line? Is Lisa Frank as important as Roy Lichtenstein? Regardless of any argument, Jones was a genius within his genre.
Though primitives replace any recognizable cast, Jones' style and vision still shows. Any graphic reduction is redeemed by the short's simple power. It is a masterpiece, which deservedly won the 1965 Best Animated Short Oscar and gained entry at Cannes. Minimalist yet vibrant, witty yet tender, The Dot and the Line sees humanity in math and math in humanity, effecting beauty in between.