You may remember Nina Paley, about whose movie Sita Sings the Blues we posted back in 2009. If you follow animation, you certainly remember her, since she put together that feature-length, jazz vocal-scored, autobiographical adaptation of the Indian myth the Ramayana almost entirely with her own set of self-taught skills. For some time now, Paley’s fans have known that her next major project, Seder-Masochism, will retell the story of Exodus using narration assembled from genuine Passover Seder recordings. This we learned when Paley chose to fund the first phase of the project on Kickstarter. We can now watch, embedded above, the very first scene she has completed: “This Land is Mine,” a brief and bloody musical history of the territory called, depending upon your perspective, Israel, Palestine, Canaan, or Levant.
Helpfully, Paley has written up a guide to this sequence’s many players: you’ve got the Canaanites, who kill Early Man; the Egpytians, who kill the Canaanites; the Assyrians, who kill the Egyptians; and so on forward through the annals until we arrive at the modern-day battles between “PLO/Hamas/Hezbollah,” the State of Israel, and “guerrillas/freedom fighters/terrorists.” Anyone who even occasionally glances toward the news knows full well how large conflict and death loom today over this particular slice of the world, but through Paley’s high-body-count animated interpretation of the place’s history, we can see that it was ever thus. She flinches not from her subject matter’s overwhelming violence, nor from her own tendency to inject it with humor. This bodes well for what she’ll do with the rest of the story, collect it as she will from as many Seders as she can attend. The makings, truly, of an Exodus different from all other Exoduses.