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 »
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.
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 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 »
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 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 on a page in a copy book. The pencil point often breaks under her fingers' force. She places broken points outside the window on the sill. A satanic figure is somewhere nearby, animated but of straw or clay, not flesh. She finishes her writing, tears the paper from the pad, folds it, places it in an envelope, and slips it through a slot. Is she writing to her husband? "Sweetheart, come." Written by
The Brothers Quay are brilliant artists whose body of work, both their puppet films and live action feature Institute Benjamenta, stands as one of the great achievements in cinema. While their new piece In Absentia does not ultimately compare to past masterpieces such as Street of Crocodiles and Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies, it's still a remarkable film that will move the viewer with its hermetic beauty.
A combination of live action and puppet animation, In Absentia details the attempts of a woman to write a letter from within the cracked, faded walls of an asylum, her progress as glacially slow as the movement of the stars. She is doomed to endlessly repeat the steps and be forever left speechless in her cell, while outside a wasteland of waring light and dark reflects her despair.
With a gorgeous score by K. Stockhausen, the film at times feels ever so slightly music video-esque, and one wonders if without the well regarded composer's music it would fall apart rather quickly. But although a lesser work, it is still a fascinating and moving one.
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