Poster for Geri's Game
|Directed by||Jan Pinkava|
|Produced by||Karen Dufilho|
|Written by||Jan Pinkava|
|Music by||Gus Viseur|
|Edited by||Jim Kallett|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
Geri's Game is a 1997 computer animated short film made by Pixar, written and directed by Jan Pinkava. Although Pixar had started out with a successful string of shorts in the 1980s, these were put on hold for most of the 1990s to focus on for-hire work, and development of the feature films Toy Story and A Bug's Life; Geri's Game was the first Pixar short since the 1989 short Knick Knack. The film won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1998.
In an empty park during autumn, the title character, Geri (voiced by Bob Peterson), is an elderly man who plays a game of chess against himself, "becoming" each of the players in turn by moving to the other side of the chessboard, where he changes his personality and either puts on or takes off his glasses to show this change.
As the game progresses, it seems as though there are two people playing; at one point, the hands of both "opponents" are in frame. The aggressive Black Geri (without the glasses) soon gains the upper hand over the more docile White Geri (with them), capturing every piece except his king and putting him in check.
However, White Geri outsmarts Black Geri by faking a myocardial infarction to distract him and spinning the board around. While Black Geri is still distracted, White Geri checkmates what is now his opponent's king. Finding that now he is the one with only his king left and discovering what has happened, Black Geri resigns the game and hands over a set of false dentures as the prize. White Geri puts them in, then chuckles and grins in his victory, before the camera pulls back to reveal that he is alone at the chessboard.
The face of the character Geri resembles actor Jonathan Harris, who also provided the voice of Geri for his later appearance in Toy Story 2, where he is a toy repairman who fixes Woody's torn arm. Chess pieces can be seen in his carrying case, in a nod to the short. Jan Pinkava, the film's writer and director, has said the character is loosely based on himself and his elderly relatives, particularly his grandfather who was a frequent and avid chess player.
This short movie served as a demonstration of a new animation tool called subdivision surfaces (NURBS was used to animate previous Pixar movies), which made skin and cloth appear more lifelike. The music heard on the background is a modern arrangement of the famous Flambée Montalbanaise, by Gus Viseur.
Geri's Game premiered on November 24, 1997 at Laemmle's Monica Theater in Santa Monica, California. It was also attached to the theatrical release of A Bug's Life in 1998 and was subsequently featured on that film's VHS and DVD releases. A VHS recording of the short film was released in 1998, but it was not widely available and is considered rare. However, Geri's Game can be found on the DVD Pixar Short Films Collection, Volume 1. It was also released on super-8 film with stereo sound.
- Anima Mundi Animation Festival – Best Film x2
- Annecy International Animated Film Festival – Jan Pinkava
- Annie Award – Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Short Subject
- Florida Film Festival – Best Short
- World Animation Celebration – Best 3-D CGI by Professional Jan Pinkava
- Zagreb World Festival of Animated Films – Internet Favourite
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