Loosely based on the Mesopotamian "Epic of Gilgamesh", here Gilgamesh is portrayed as a grotesque, Picasso-esque being who uses a tricycle to patrol his box-shaped kingdom that hovers above a dark abyss.
A man closes up a lecture hall; he reaches into a box and snips the string holding a gaunt puppet. Released, the puppet warily explores the darkened rooms about him. Screws twist out of ... See full summary »
When a childless couple learn that they cannot have children, it causes great distress. To ease his wife's pain, the man finds a piece of root in the backyard and chops it and varnishes it into the shape of a child. However the woman takes the root as her baby and starts to pretend that it is real. When the root takes life they seem to have gained a child; but its appetite is much greater than a ... See full summary »
A man sits down to watch a football match, which seems to consist of the players being violently mutilated in various inventive ways. The players then leave the football pitch and invade ... See full summary »
A horror movie testing two approaches to running an insane asylum - absolute freedom versus control and punishment - within the context of a world that combines the worst of both. Jean ... See full summary »
In eighteenth-dynasty Egypt, Sinuhe, a poor orphan, becomes a brilliant physician and with his friend Horemheb is appointed to the service of the new Pharoah. Sinuhe's personal triumphs and... See full summary »
In Prague, a professorial puppet, with metal pincers for hands and an open book for a hat, takes a boy as a pupil. First, the professor empties fluff and toys from the child's head, leaving... See full summary »
A magnet moves on a floor. A moth beats against a window. A doll child watches the magnet; threads of metal filings gather around the magnet. The doll, who's sitting at a table, looks in a ... See full summary »
A red-clothed puppet lives in a room with a missing wall. He rides a tricycle. Gadgets surround him. He eats dandelion tufts. A painting lies on a table in the middle of his room. He hides. A bird-man flies into the room curious about the vaguely erotic painting. Something in it moves: the bird-man looks closely, the painting clamps shut, he's ensnared. Trike-man emerges from hiding, frees a cricket from inside the table and throws the cricket into the night. He pulls a bolt of cloth through a hole in one wall, yard by yard. Trapped in the cloth is the bird-man, whose wings the trike-man clips; he cages the bird-man in his table and rides his trike maniacally around the cage. Written by
This was originally meant to be a 52-minute film based on the Epic of Gilgamesh to involve live action, dance and animation. What we have now is a 11-minute film of the segment where Gilgamesh, setting up his traps, succeeds in trapping Enkidu with an elaborate table trap.
I think it's almost a given that if one knows the Quays one is also acquainted with vankmajer. It may be my too strong inclination to project my own subjective theories onto things, but I think his influence looms over this one strongly. While a very interesting film (I don't think the brothers have ever done anything uninteresting), I think the more their films started to swerve to their unknown paths of (often) black-and-white chaos the better.
Not that this doesn't have that trademark sense of not only the surreal, nightmarish kind of dreaming, it already has that strong personal sense that makes one wonder whether these images have been taken from one's own subconscious. In their strangeness they are peculiarly familiar, and isn't that a sign of great art if anything? That we take the images as our own.
This is available on DVD, a collection of their short films, and the brothers did a few audio commentaries for it, this being one of them. They are, personally, as endearing, interesting, intelligent and witty as artists get. And artists they are, and I'm so glad to have them around.
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