Felisberto Fernandez is a piano tuner of exceptional skill, hired by Dr. Emmanuel Droz to come to a remote clinic to clean and refurbish Droz's seven automatons, elaborate mechanical constructs. Droz wants the work done quickly, in time for an opera he's staging for himself. Fernandez's attentions are captured by two women at the clinic, Assumpta, the clinic's manager, and Malvina van Stille, a patient who is also a superb singer. Fernandez works on the machines and is drawn to the women while Droz may be manipulating more than the automatons. Do emotions and choice play any part, or it is all opera? Written by
I watched this film in the Athens Film Festival, having just watched "Institute Benjamenta" a few days earlier. The effect both of these films had on me was quite similar - as movies they were incredibly dull and boring, but as visual experiences incredibly beautiful. The main problem is that the Quays are mostly animators, and most of their work has been short films. If I'm not terribly mistaken, these are their only full length movies. They have beautiful images in their minds and an amazing talent to materialize them, but not the ability (or perhaps the desire) to transform them into a watchable 2-hour movie.
The brothers were also present at the screening of the film. They admitted they were quite disappointed with the end result of the "Piano Tuner...", mostly because they had been forced to direct it with limited funds and in a shorter time than what they would have wanted. Because of the above problems, they had to film it in Liepzig instead of Portugal, and they had to wrap it up about a week earlier than it had originally been agreed. Also, they weren't afraid to admit that they have never been able to finance a full-length animation movie, so they thought that a "regular" film would be a good excuse to squeeze some of their own animations in. Indeed, there is a puppet showing up regularly in the film that does not really have anything to do with the happenings.
All in all, both these films make excellent memories when you recollect them some time after the screening. You have, however to put up with the actual screening. If these phenomenally talented guys could find themselves a sharp screenwriter, and most importantly, some better financing, they could easily create some timeless masterpieces.
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