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 »
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 »
Near an extraordinary chair with many legs, a hand is visible gripping an edge. The hand is weathered, the fingers cracked and scarred. The end of a rifle appears and a shot fires. The ... See full summary »
A woman sits alone on a chair at a table in a room on one of the top floors of an asylum. Bright spot lights dot the night, sometimes shining on her window. She sharpens pencils and writes ... See full summary »
A tear falls from the eyes of a veiled face. A white ball whips around a heart-shaped paddle. A mournful voice sings, "Are we still married?" A child's stuffed rabbit watches, sees ... See full summary »
An enigmatic story told in seven chapters, each introduced by an elliptical sentence on a title card. A man is in an apartment. He goes outside where a red tram runs beside a cathedral. He ... 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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