This film is part of Free


Farting and swearing and violence – oh my! Albert Jarry’s controversial play translates beautifully to splattered inks in Geoff Dunbar’s award-winning animation.

Animation & Artists Moving Image 1978 19 mins Not rated


The rise and fall of Pa and Ma Ubu has been shocking audiences since Albert Jarry’s play had its Paris debut in 1896. There's an absurdist, cartoonish spirit inherent in the text, and along with Jarry’s own woodcut illustrations of the characters it was ripe source material for animation. Geoff Dunbar was not the first to attempt an adaptation, but along with his talented crew (most notably Annabel Jankel’s extraordinary inking) he certainly produced one of the finest.

Dunbar had started his career at the established British animation houses of the Larkins Studio and Halas & Batchelor, but his talents helped him set up Grand Slamm to make television commercials and his own independent shorts. Along with Lautrec (1974), in which Dunbar brought Henri-Toulouse’s sketchbooks to life (also on BFI Player), Ubu caught the attention of animation fan Paul McCartney. Rupert and the Frog Song (1984) was the first in a series of collaborations between animator and musician that has continued up to 2021 and the music video for the song When Winter Comes.