French filmmaker Michel Gondry’s ingenious new hand-animated documentary, Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?, takes an imaginative look at the life of controversial MIT professor, philosopher, linguist, anti-war activist and political firebrand Noam Chomsky. Complex, lively conversations with Chomsky accompanied by innovative, often playful illustrations by Gondry reveal the life and work of the father of modern linguistics and explore his theories on the emergence of language. The film is both a beautifully animated work of art and a vivid portrait of one of the foremost thinkers of modern times and its unique visual style broadens the concept of documentary filmmaking.
In an exclusive interview, Gondry talked about the inspiration behind his visually inventive juxtaposition of animation and documentary, how he used hand-drawn illustrations and humor to bring to life a series of intellectually stimulating interviews with Chomsky on a variety of complex topics, and why he hopes his unconventional approach will help to reveal the humanity of a very complicated thinker and make his ideas more accessible to a broader audience. Gondry, who has a variety of projects currently in development, also discussed plans to adapt Ubik, a sci-fi tale based on Philip K. Dick’s 1969 novel, for the screen. Hit the jump to read the interview: