Sometimes the most disturbing, troubling but important things are best delivered with dark humour and a large dose of the unexpected. Such is the case in this powerful animation from Veterans for Peace, which sends up an advert for Action Man figures to drive home their campaign to end child recruitment into the British Armed Forces and raise the age people can join from 16 to 18.
The short arrives from Agile films, with the Action Man concept and script by artist. Darren Cullen. It was directed by Price James and produced by Micki Pearlman, and shows off the Action Man: Battlefield Casualties range, which includes PTSD Action Man, who has turned to Special Brew and substance abuse to try and block out his trauma; Paralysed Action Man (“legs really don’t work, his spine shattered by an enemy IED, Action Man is crippled with constant pain”) and finally the grisly, graphic Dead Action man, “blown to bits by bombs, it’s up to you to identify him.”
Voiced by the booming Matt Berry, the selling points (“PTSD Action Man now comes with thousand yard stare!”) are both hilariously dark comedy and stark reminder of the realities of warfare. Created in exactly the style of a 90s TV ad, the shots of delighted kids playing with their mentally and physically mutilated figurines are eerily perfect. They’ve been interspersed with found footage of the likes of Mr Blobby and snippets of Golden Grahams ads to add a disquieting video-art sensibility to the whole thing, which perfectly merges the humorous and the chilling.
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