Animation film by Iby-Jolande Varga

A, 1999, 16mm, colour, 23’
Idea, script, drawings, objacts, animation, stop motion camera, editing:
Iby-Jolande Varga
Music composed by Stephen Ferguson

Thousands of junk mail price tags, 180 scenes from advertising flyers, re-drawn as gilded, stylised icons and original three dimensional objects, suggesting a world of complete happiness.

Iby-Jolande Varga writes about Soap Bubble Opera:
"As a child I remember keeping two advertising brochures as if they were colourful treasures. Then I began to collect snippets from the hills and mountains of junk mail. Are there treasures to be discovered in these mountains? Having combed them a thousand times, I decided there were two gold mines - price tags and those scenes which offer up the happiness you get free with the bargain soap. I managed to re-construct a whole life cycle out of the collection of flyers I had gathered over the years. I re-drew them, alienating them, standardizing them and stylizing them until they became like icons. In the film they are grouped into several scenes and united in three ‘dramatic’ acts.

‘Varga has spent thousands of hours in the cartoon studio making this materialist world of advertising flyers come alive. As her story of happy love and idyllic families unravels we realise it is ambiguous – a critique of patterns of life prescribed by media and advertising, and yet an act of pure fun,‘ wrote the composer of the music for the film, Stephen Ferguson. Coming from art music, he is an experienced media music composer too, two worlds he combines here in his original score for the movie."

More texts about the film*

Honorary mention at the National Film Prize ceremony of the Federal Chancellery, Austria, 2000.
Premiere: Diagonale Graz, 2000

DVD specials: Three acts and 14 scenes can be viewed separately. Making of with interviews and photos from the studio, slideshows with about 400 pictures.

"In Iby-Jolande Varga’s enrapturing Soap Bubble Opera snippets of advertising material, price tags and flyers race past on screen to create a colourful, mysterious parallel world, unfolding in three acts in front of the viewer's eyes. As it vanishes at the end, it leaves us with the feeling of having seen something unusual and yet achingly familiar, an animation experience which is as strange as it is fascinating."
Animation/ Avantgarde film programmE Diagonale 2000, Graz
Filmtext DIAGONALE 2000

"Using elaborate and highly creative animation techniques, Iby-Jolande Varga has succeeded in making a film which is far removed from the classical language of cartoons. Beyond its formal aspects, the film can be seen as an explicit crit on how media images are used to conjure up fake realities and inspire aberrant consumer behaviour. Using the technique of stop motion an autonomous and mysterious universe arises, single-minded and painstaking in its construction, and vastly detailed."
Citation at the Award Ceremony of the Film Prizes of the Austrian Ministry of Arts, Diagonale 2000

"Iby-Jolande Varga has just finished (1999) her 6th work "Soap Bubble Opera" which consists of animated arrangements of torn-up pieces of the advertising flyers that she found in her mailbox. Relying on the simplest of means, the film is an ingenious and insightful commentary on consumer culture. Divided into "Acts", it illustrates the commodification of contemporary life where, literally, everything has or is a price-tag."
Evelyn Kain, Professor of Art, Wisconsin

Translations by Stephen Ferguson
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