Animation is great at conjuring worlds that never existed, but that’s not all it’s good for. It’s also a perfect medium for showing true stories that are too good to be true, and The Chaperone 3D is a perfect example. Fraser Munden’s 2013 festival favourite uses stop-motion, puppetry, rotoscoping and more to tell the absolutely true tale of a junior high dance invaded by a biker gang, and the lone high school teacher standing between his students and chaos.
The story is told by that teacher (Ralph Whims) and a friend of his who was at the incident, and their demeanor couldn’t be more at odds with the mayhem on the screen. Whims in particular is entirely matter-of-fact about the whole affair, dishing out advice on the best way to take down a gang with the same even keel you’d imagine him using for any in-class lecture. The story has clearly been polished by decades of re-tellings, but Munden insists that it’s true, even explaining that the film “toned down some of the details to make it seem more palatable, as crazy as that sounds.”
Munden and his crew style the story through the lens of ’70s Blaxploitation and kung-fu flicks, with a healthy dose of children’s television in the mix, but stylish as the visuals are, they’re still second-fiddle to the story itself. Whims is a wonderful storyteller, and even though it’s an absurdly violent story it’s still strangely warm — Whims comes across more like Looney Tunes’ competent, protective Sam the Sheepdog than Shaft-style badass, even as he’s swinging stools at bikers’ heads. But don’t let us spoil the story; listen to it in Whims’ own words below.
The Chaperone 3D
dir: Fraser Munden
syn: The previously untold, true story of a lone teacher chaperoning a peaceful school dance in a 1970s Montreal church basement… until a motorcycle gang invades. But the bikers don’t know one thing: Ralph has a curriculum to teach, and he’ll ram it into their skull if he has to!
See with your own eyes the short film that moved veteran actor David Arquette to remark simply: “magnificent”.
Bonus: Director Fraser Munden discussed the making of The Chaperone in a 2014 interview with Spectacular Optical — including their initial hesitation to overuse rotoscoping, and why people are skeptical about animated documentaries.