Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?

Michel Gondry—known for such whimsical fantasies as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), The Science of Sleep (2006), and Be Kind Rewind (2008)—shot two searching interviews with linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky in 2010, and though the filmmaker is no match for him intellectually, Gondry contributes a powerful visual response by pairing their audio track with wildly imaginative animation sequences that illustrate and sometimes reflect on Chomsky’s ideas. Aside from a few frames within the frame that show the professor speaking to Gondry in a conference room, the entire film is 2-D animation, ranging from free-spirited doodles to more elaborate geographic drawings. The professor responds to Gondry’s innocent questions with a master class in philosophy and cognitive science; the onscreen result is a striking inquiry into how we comprehend the world, neatly divided between a man of words and a man of images.