Oh My Darling (1978)

*. I had a real surprise when I went to look up the date for this one. 1978! Why does it seem so contemporary?
*. Because the story is archetypal. Some things never change, and family dynamics might be expected to be one of them. Of course the nature of the family has changed a great deal in the last fifty years in relation to women working more and achieving greater equality. But Oh My Darling is about roles that are deeper rooted. Perhaps not to the point where we should consider them “natural,” but certainly more grounded in familiar psychological patterns.
*. When I say family dynamics I’m talking about power dynamics. At first the baby is in charge, riding her father, the queen of the household that everyone and everything else revolves around. After that she places her father on a pedestal, even sitting on a throne wearing a crown. As the girl grows older she rebels against the tyranny of authority and the parents are left with an empty nest. The king has lost his crown to the new head of a new family. But he can adjust. Mom has it harder.
*. There are variations in these roles today, but the same sort of intergenerational conflict still occurs all the time, the same stretching and snapping back of the family elastic. I’ve called the story archetypal but I guess some would object to the characters as stereotypes. There may not be a lot of difference.
*. I don’t think any part of the look of the film has dated, except maybe the boyfriend’s cool lid. But then aside from the major studios’ house styles, animation doesn’t date. Whatever was old becomes new again. Børge Ring, went on to do one of the segments (“So Beautiful and So Dangerous”) in Heavy Metal, which doesn’t look too much like this but which has also stood the test of time in its kooky way.
*. Oh My Darling won the Jury prize at Cannes for Best Short Film and was also nominated for an Academy Award. I don’t think it’s well known today, but as I’ve said it still seems very familiar.

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