CAPSULE: To all appearances, this is not so much a film as it is a stunt to set a legal precedent. An entire animated film has only fragments of rock songs comprising its audio track. The audio track is 555 song fragments legally copied from 129 rock singers. Chase Peter Garrettson writes and directs. Rating: -3 (-4 to +4) or 0/10
In its publicity, ‘The Stolen Lyric’ promised to be unique and I cannot disagree. The film is an animated rock narrative set in modern times but loosely based on the story of Robin Hood, pitting a small rock band against the selfish record companies.
That idea has possibilities, but what was done with it can hardly be called a possibility. The film’s intention is to make a legal point about copyright law. As the providers say, ‘This transformative remix work constitutes a fair use of any copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US copyright laws.’ So there!
The whole enterprise is reminiscent of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’. The narrative is cobbled together from pieces of those songs that have come before. The resulting being is one of surpassing ugliness. When it is played, cats hide and dogs howl.
It is a story set to music but, every time the speaker changes, the music behind him changes so you get a nerve-jarring collection of song lyrics. There are 555 song fragments, many of which would be hard to understand so the filmmakers have mercifully subtitled to give the listener a fair chance. There are 129 artists whose music is quoted in this film. Just listening to the film sets nerves on edge.
The entire film has been put on YouTube to play without charge. The story itself seems to have visual references to the Robin Hood stories. The band members are Rob, Will Scarlet, LJ and Tucker. The last is an obvious reference to Friar Tuck but, though the original Tuck was an ally and friend to Robin Hood, he was not in Robin Hood’s band of outlaws. These characters are in the modern Rob’s band, but it is hard keep track of their characters’ personalities since their voice is very different every time they speak.
If this film was made to set a legal precedent or to make a legal piece of humour, it probably was successful. If it was really intended to be an entertainment, at that it failed. Rating this as a narrative film I would give it a -3 on the -4 to +4 scale or 0/10. But my guess is that that was not the point or the purpose.
Mark R. Leeper
(c) Mark R. Leeper 2017