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Labyrinth (1963)
"Labirynt" (original title)

 -  Animation | Short  -  June 1963 (Poland)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 227 users  
Reviews: 2 user | 2 critic

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Title: Labyrinth (1963)

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Labyrinth  »

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Surreal cut-out stop-motion animation film presents a nightmare world
8 February 2012 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Superficially this looks like a Terry Gilliam / Monty Python animated cartoon and it is indeed very funny and quite surreal. A man with mechanical wings strapped to him visits a strange 19th-century European city whose streets and buildings are oddly empty. He has several weird adventures which culminate in his being captured by a mad scientist who early on has noted his presence and who probably rules the city. The scientist-ruler subjects the visitor to painful scientific examinations but he manages to escape and tries to leave the city. The ruler searches for him and sends out bat-winged scouts to find the visitor and bring him down.

The combination of stop-motion animation and collages of paper cut-out 19th-century figures and buildings gives the short a distinctive steam-punk look and provides opportunities for humorous sight gags. Insects with human heads and animated dinosaur skeletons don't look at all out of place – we accept them as inventions of the mad scientist-ruler. Colour is an important feature and its use is very striking and beautiful. The musical soundtrack assumes a major role in enhancing the action and tension of the plot and of the 19th-century atmosphere as the film is completely silent.

There are passages where the action seems fussy and dragged out – the scientific examination of the visitor is probably overdone though the animation is very droll and the use of colour very original in parts – and the film could have been edited for a faster, tighter plot narrative.

Overall "The Labyrinth" presents a world at once absurd, bizarre and entertaining but which turns out to be nightmarish and deadly. The city is more Hotel-California than the visitor realises: you can visit and stay as long as you like but you can never leave; a parallel with the authoritarian state that existed in Poland in the early 1960s, and the absurdities associated with totalitarian rule that went on in that country, can be observed.


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