Blinky & Me (NR)

Documentary 75 December 31, 1969
By Michelle Orange
By his own account, animator Yoram Gross's signal creation-- a gray-tufted, cheeky koala named Blinky Bill-- is the Mickey Mouse of Australia. Most of us will have to take his word for that, and in Blinky & Me, Tomasz Magierski's lovely and lovingly made portrait of Gross's life and career, it is a great if often sorrowful pleasure to take his word for much more. Using as a point of entry a trip the longtime Australian took with his five grandchildren back to his native Poland, in Blinky, the 85-year-old Gross narrates his experience of World War II from the streets of Krakow and Warsaw. Magierski frames a too-common story of horror, displacement, and survival with singular warmth: Now a dear old man, Gross is uncommonly gentle with his grandkids, who hang on his every syllable, and the unlikely creation of Blinky Bill is shown to be a direct result and reflection of his suffering. Animations and archival footage add context and texture; best are the simple sequences intercutting Gross and his grandchildren telling one of his stories-- from the mouse he befriended while in hiding to the rescue of his sister from German incarceration—suggest storytelling's binding effect across generations and too many borders.
Tomasz Magierski