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The Quays are American-born identical twin animators who work out of
but whose work has a strong Eastern European flavor. I first came across
their work one late night on a PBS station while channel surfing. It took
about three seconds to realize I was watching something that was an
extraordinary, one-of-a-kind experience. "Street of Crocodiles" was a
strange epic in miniature, depicting a subterranean world where wooden
are brought to life through impossibly graceful stop-motion animation. In
it, a silent man explores this enchanting but virtually unknowable place
brownish shop interiors and inanimate objects set into symbolic motion
through the wonders of reverse time lapse photography. This Kafkaesque
of journey is typical of the Quays' work. Oftentimes their art seems to be
what a visualization of the subconscious would look like--and oftentimes
it's just as hard to decipher.
This collection is so valuable because for so long the Quay Brothers have been under-represented on video. Another gem included here is "The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer", named after the Czech animator who is their biggest influence ("Alice", his fabulist revision of the Wonderland story, is also not to be missed). "Cabinet", a parable of a child's education, is more lighthearted than most of their work and is filled with some of the brothers' most sumptuous visual poetry. "Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies" and their pieces on painting and opera are also great. Not for everyone, but adventurous lovers of film, animation and the avant-garde should not miss out on the bizarre and beautiful world of the Quay Brothers. And with this comprehensive collection available, there's no reason not to.
Once again I'm surprised to see only a small handful of comments on
IMDb for a film (or, collection of films, in this case) that deserves
much more attention than it gets.
Brothers Quay Collection features something in the order of a dozen stop-motion shorts of the nightmarish persuasion. The images are disturbing, haunting, frightening, mainly I think because they seem to strike a chord in the viewer that seldom resonates but is there.
I rented this on a lark, being a fan of animation in general and came away totally impressed. I believe the videos by Tool were mere knock-offs with only stylistic similarities that don't even begin to scratch the surface of this stuff. Prepare for something thought-provoking (without pretension), ultimately frustratingly difficult to decipher.Like another viewer admitted, I find myself lost: there is a much deeper meaning to all of this running just below the surface, if only Icould just figure it all out! Though self-defeating, I would've loved a commentary track on this DVD!
Oh, and the included documentary on art history, and the hidden images and messages in renaissance paintings is a nice parable to the hidden meanings of their works and will interest most anyone.
After having read this from the previous poster...
>"Once again I'm surprised to see only a small handful of comments on IMDb for a film (or, collection of films, in this case) that deserves much more attention than it gets."<
I felt compelled to join the very small group of reviewers, out of solidarity. :-) I'm not going to try to analyze this unique work, it's far beyond my reach. Audiovisual evocative art is at its peak here, and when I meet such talent, I tend to keep my mouth shut (from absolute awe), which explains why I never commented on the Quay shorts despite I'm extremely fond of them.
So I'll just say that: I LOVE these shorts. They challenge me, upset me, scare the living daylights out of me, and make me feel like an ant with no artistic talent whatsoever (I'm a musician, and incidentally discovered the Quay brothers through a video for the band "His name is alive"). No, I'm not a masochist (*LOL*). This gives me inspiration, feeds my imagination and helps me carry on creating, taking risks, instead of just trying to be "good" at what I do. I find these animated pieces as weird and marvelous as my most wild dreams. And as frightening as my worst nightmares.
The only other audiovisual work (that I know of) that comes close in terms of oniric, dream-like substance is Lynch's "Eraserhead". I'd say any fan of Eraserhead MUST take a look at the Quay bros. shorts, and vice-versa. Kudos.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Imagine the "key" twins of `Zed and Two Noughts.' As they lay dying and decaying in the movie they are making, they imagine twenty six sessions of Carrollinian (conceptual) sex with their daughter, Alice. As they enter the underwonderworld of discarded beings, they are distracted by the Saragossa Manuscript. What results is this collection of story-rooms where they are forced to recreate themselves from the discarded detritus of themselves.
They recall literary and musical constructs and build a visual reality around them. As the world is synthetic, half of it has to go toward its own operation.
Any day, I'd trade ten evenings with Scorsese for one with the Quays.
This work quotes so much arcane literature that I am sure I missed 90% of the references. I thoroughly understand Polish kabbalah and Alice, so appreciated the still nights 2 and 4. In fact, I have never been so visually exhilarated as in those few minutes. The earlier stuff is too oppressive for me to choose my challenges in that flavor. I think Svankmajer got the Alice stuff all wrong, so the early homage to him is flawed. Lots of drawers... relatively unclever in previsualization.
I am tentatively giving this only a three of four. A four is must viewing, but I must wait until seeing `Institute Benj.'
Ted's evaluation: 3 of 4 -- Worth Watching
pulsating in a twisted and frenzied world of the Nightmare Before
Christmas but with every molecule of Disney sucked out and replaced
with a permeated sense of pessimism and dread, these well made stop
motion shorts are a delight to watch. in the new DVD format they shine
even brighter. one may slow them down and look for layer upon layer of
past film and literature and art references and even a few cultural
technological references. kafka is the most frequently evoked influence
on these films but the mellon collie poe is equally lurking beneath the
surface. simply amazing to watch how ever detail is meticulously
crafted to lead the viewers eye as though on a leash.
fans of the rock band tool will recognize these as the basis for their own collection of video's with special emphasis on earlier album's videos. this should be required viewing in nearly any arts program as perfect example of form and technique as well as an example of atmospheric motifs. the short documentary named anamorphisis also serves as a catalyst for forming an interest in art history for those who do not already have it. simply wonderful. flawless 10 out of 10
Having been a long time fan of Jan Svankmejer's animation, I finally checked out the Brothers Quay. I'd have to say that I think their work is far more interesting than a lot of Svankmajer's. (Altho he has some amazing pieces) I was floored by the detail and vision that their work shows. Absolutely amazing and incredible beautiful work! Wonderfully surreal sets and characters. Buy it for your collection!
"The Films of the Brothers Quay" is a incredible collection shorts, and
it was my very first contact with the work of this Stephen and Timothy
Quay, two animators heavily influenced by Jan Svankmajer( In fact, the
first film included in this collection, "The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer"
is an exquisite homage to that Czech animator) However, as this
collection of shorts shows, the works made by the Quay Brothers quickly
developed their own style, being lyrical and haunting at the same time.
From the eerie beauty of "Street of Cocodriles" to the whimsical, dream-like "Stille Nacht" shorts ("Dramolet", "Are we Still Married?" "Tales From Vienna Woods" and "Can't Go Wrong Without You") each one of the works included in this selection shows an incredible artistic quality, filled with intense poetry and unforgettable images.
I highly recommend "The Films of the Brothers Quay". The ten shorts included here are each one a triumph of its own, and it shows how artistic and beautiful non-mainstream animation could be.
I first saw the works of these brothers in 1990. I thought there style of animation was so different then what I had seen before. Although these twin brother directors are American you could not see it in there work. It looked very eastern European, as if it had come out of some Soviet block TV series. While the short films on this DVD make little sense or follow any story line, there are visually fascinating to look at. Some times the imagery is disturbing to look at. If dolls had nightmares this is what they might look like. I can't say I liked their work, but I do feel it is ground breaking visually interesting and creative. This is not for those with a passing fancy in stop-motion animation.
I appreciate the high quality surreal animation, but was otherwise disappointed by this. Nearly all of the imagery comes from Jan Svankmajor, without Svankmajor's wit, whimsy, and story telling abilities. "Street Of The Crocodiles, which I had heard...(read more)...(read more) so much about, was beautiful and ephemeral, it just didn't touch on any new nerves for me. However those who enjoy the more abstract side of animation may find this right up their alley, but if your looking for macabre, literate, Rube Goldbergian animation with storytelling to match it's visual lushness, I would try some "an Svankmajor short films, otherwise this is all you.
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