A young man goes to a school for servants run by a brother and sister. In the dreamlike and surreal world that he enters, how will his presence impact the people there and possibly even the school itself?
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 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 »
Jakob arrives at the Institute Benjamenta (run by brother and sister Johannes and Lisa Benjamenta) to learn to become a servant. With seven other men, he studies under Lisa: absurd lessons of movement, drawing circles, and servility. He asks for a better room. No other students arrive and none leave for employment. Johannes is unhappy, imperious, and detached from the school's operation. Lisa is beautiful, at first tightly controlled, then on the verge of breakdown. There's a whiff of incest. Jakob is drawn to Lisa, and perhaps she to him. As winter sets in, she becomes catatonic. Things get worse; Johannes notes that all this has happened since Jakob came. Is there any cause and effect? Written by
The comparison to David Lynch's "Eraserhead" is important but only in an opposite way. While Lynch's first feature (and still the best) relies strongly and almost only on directors vision and artistic "feel" (without any philosophy, just a free thought) this one found an inspiration in poetry and tried to transcend it into a living world. So, the wrong approach is more than obvious. How can anybody turn poetry into a motion picture. The answer is: only if you approach the film the same way as some poet might approach his poem - with senses and instinct, nothing else. And that is where the Quay brothers failed. They tried to put poetic vision into a hermetic space and, of course it doesn't work. Photography and acting are excellent but they are not much important here. For me, the whole scenery and the plot is unnecessary and got very little to do with the philosophy of dialogues. It is just there to fill the visuals. And then you end up with something that's not exactly a film but not exactly anything else either. Still, true artistic films are so rare today, that even a weak one is more than welcome in a world of superficial art. Let's just hope that it will be better next time, for brothers Quay and for us.
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