Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?

Synopsis: A series of interviews featuring linguist, philosopher and activist Noam Chomsky done in hand-drawn animation.
Director(s): Michel Gondry
Production: IFC Films
  1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
88 min


I discovered Noam Chomsky

by picking up a couple

of DVDs at a video store

in New York a few years ago:

Manufacturing Consent and

a Rebel Without a Pause.

I remember this sequence

where a few kids from a

school radio station

are interviewing Professor

Chomsky at their little station.

Noam was giving them

his full attention,

as he does to everyone

who requests it.

Film and video are both, by

their nature, manipulative.

The editor or director

proposes an assembly

of carefully selected segments

that he/she has in mind.

In other words, the context becomes

more important than the content.

And as a result, the voice that

appears to come from the subject

is actually coming

from the filmmaker.

That is why I find the

process manipulative.

The human brain forgets the cut,

a faculty specifically human

that, I will learn, Noam

calls psychic continuity.

The brain absorbs a constructed

continuity as a reality

and consequently gets convinced

to witness a fair

representation of the subject.

On the other hand, animation that

I decided to use for this film

is clearly the interpretation

of its author.

If messages or even

propaganda can be delivered,

the audience is constantly reminded

that they are not watching reality,

so it's up to them to decide

if they are convinced or not.

Also I have been

looking for a project

that would add up a long process

to a hopefully coherent result,

a way to focus

my often shattered creativity

and maybe contribute

to expose values I share.

Of course, the egotistic side

of me also felt empowered

about the prospect

of spending some time

with "the most important

thinker alive,"

as he is described in a paragraph

which coincidentally ends by asking

why Chomsky is "an American hater,"

a misconception only possible

if you consider

that the same people who run a

country also constitute it.

But what the hell?

Professor Chomsky is not getting any

younger, and I better hurry up.

After all, I just did a film about

my aunty for similar reasons...

not animated, though.

Then again,

she is less controversial.

Or is she?

We're going to have a conversation,

and sometimes this going to

run and sometimes not so.

Hopefully, it's not going

to be too distracting.

Oh, it doesn't bother me.

Okay, 'cause it's a bit noisy.

It's like that.

It's an old-fashioned sound,

so I wanted you to be prepared.

Hearken back to your youth.

Doesn't it wreck the audio?

Well, a little bit.

We will hear the camera.

But as long as we understand

the word, I don't mind.


So I prepared my question

a little bit,

but I... ah, I'm sorry.

I'm a little bit nervous. I... I...

You are nervous?

He is.

After all your experience

in the public eye?

No, not... it depends

on the person I'm meeting

more than me.

So I wanted to start

with asking you

if you could record the very

first memory of your life.

- The first memory of my life?

- Yeah.

Yeah, I suppose.

There are memories that I can date

because I know where they were,

you know.

So I can date memories

from about a year and a half,

when I was sitting on a...

I know where it was,

so it had to be a year and a half,

where I was sitting on a counter,

and my aunt, who...

My parents had jobs,

which was unusual.

This was the 1930s.

So there was a stream

of aunts and cousins

and others who came through,

and there were several aunts

who spent time with us.

One of them was trying to get me

to eat oatmeal,

which I didn't want to eat.

So I just put it in my cheek

and refused to swallow it,

and she was... tried to figure out

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Michel Gondry

Michel Gondry (French: [miʃɛl ɡɔ̃dʁi]; born 8 May 1963) is a French independent film director, screenwriter, and producer. He is noted for his inventive visual style and distinctive manipulation of mise en scène. He won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay as one of the writers of the 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. His other films include the surrealistic science fantasy comedy The Science of Sleep (2006), the comedy Be Kind Rewind (2008), the superhero action comedy The Green Hornet (2011), the drama The We and the I (2012), and the romantic science fantasy tragedy Mood Indigo (2013). He is well known for his music video collaborations with Radiohead, Björk, Beck, The Chemical Brothers and The White Stripes. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 26 Oct. 2020. <>.

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