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Strings, at it's simplest level, is a dark fairy tale of the Brother's
Grimm variety. The film begins with a King writing his final message
before he kills himself, asking his son to take up his crown and strive
for peace between his people and the rebellious enemy of the nation.
However the King's evil brother finds the note first, and wanting to
get rid of the son, and also wipe out the rebel faction, he concocts a
plot to achieve his goal, and claim the throne for himself. The son
soon finds himself an outcast from his land, and learns some shocking
truths, whilst also falling in love. Sort of Snow White meets
Gormenghast, the tale itself is nothing new. What makes this film
different is the style in which it is presented. The characters are all
Now, this isn't the first puppet film to have hit the screen. In the past there have been various attempts, most recently the spoof Team America. However, in all the films before the puppets were used to represent humans. Here, in Strings, the fact that they are marionettes is integral to the tale, and the strings that hold them are as important as the characters. Each of them are aware of these cords, and they play such a huge part in every scene, and in the grand design of the whole thing. The details such as the city gate being just a piece of stone which is lifted to a high level, preventing the strings from passing, thus stopping anyone entering or leaving. The prison which is a simple grid of beams at a height, leading to some poignant moments when an imprisoned family can see each other, but cannot touch. Fights are enacted where the intention is to sever someone's cords. A child's birth is a different affair, with the baby being carved first before the strings themselves can be attached. Truly imaginative, and quite a high concept, yet working so well.
The marionettes are not the detailed dolls that Team America gave us. The only facial movements here are the eyes which open and close. This could have presented a problem, but thanks to the marvelous animation of the wooden puppets, and some passionate voice casting, it doesn't. There is never any confusion as to who is speaking, and what is going on, as the film presents us with wonderfully conceived scene after scene. Some elements are beautiful and touching, such as an underwater rescue, or the aforementioned birth scene. Some are quite shocking, but without being upsetting. Burning string has never seemed so dark until now.
This is possibly one of the freshest, most creative films of recent years, and is another example of someone doing something new with a genre. Visually superb, and wonderfully played out, the only concern is where the market actually lies for this kind of film. As a kids story it is very mature and dark, and as a mature film, the puppetry is a little alienating to the masses. Instead this film lies somewhere between the two, and if you can cope with a delightful tale, with poignant moments, enacted by some of the best 'classic' puppetry you would ever see, then go and take a seat.
I watched this movie at the Norwegian International Film Festival, and
I was totally blown away. The atmosphere, world and characters this
movie introduces you to feels so incredibly unique and extraordinary.
The most brilliant thing, however, is the fact that instead of editing out the strings, or pretending that they're not there, they use the strings as a sort of...lifeforce.. If somebody looses their head-string, they're dead. This simple fact made the world seem even more real, and suddenly made the puppets into something living.
If I had to say anything negative about this movie at all, it's the fact that since the mouths of the puppets aren't moving when they're talking it's a bit difficult to get into at first. I found myself confused in the beginning as to whom it was that was talking, but I guess this is just the nature of movies that use puppets like these.
I couldn't recommend this movie any stronger than I do. Pray that this gets a US distributor, because as of now it's not picked up.
I happened upon this film the other night, fresh (!) back in Phuket
from Burma. Tired though I was, and the film was perhaps a quarter of
the way through, I was absolutely mesmerised by it.
First, I was trying to guess the actors' voices. Second, I was captivated by the don't laugh "acting" skills of the marionettes.
Granted, there were no facial expressions, no morphing/animatronics/etc but still there was a warmth to these carved blocks of wood. BTW I was brought up watching Gerry Anderson (Thunderbirds, et al) and now realise that I have retained a soft spot for filmic puppetry.
Perhaps that is part of the attraction of the film for me, the fact that it is reminiscent of half a dozen long-forgotten puppet programmes generally from Eastern Europe, as I recall shown during the school holidays when it was probably raining.
Gentle despite the violence in the story moving and entrancing.
Watch it if you can through child's eyes.
In the world of modern films showing you the realistic nature of violence, this film is a peaceful moment for your soul, allowing you to see the beauty of life. The story is neither complicated, nor exciting, but it's not a drawback. You can feel just by looking at the puppet whether he or she is "good" or "bad", and you can guess how the tale will end. We see a true tale, in an enchanted world of small details and simply-big thoughts: tears are rain, strings are life-force, freedom can be reached, loved ones are connected. We are falling into the screen, into this fantasy world, smilingly. People need tales. (Zita)
For all those who say "I'm too old for puppet theater" I can only say
The story might not be the most original (though it is leaps and bounds more complex and consistent than most of the actual blockbuster) but the directing and effects are simply beautiful.
The original part in the film is indeed that the puppets know of their strings and live and play with them. As another commenter says, the film does not try to hide the strings, but it does hide the puppeteers. Part of the mystery of the film is where the strings come from (and here you have several great shots and effects).
I can only recommend the film, but I doubt it will run in too many big cinemas (I saw it in the Edinburgh Filmhouse)...
Strings" is quite a unique and interesting movie going experience. This
just happens to be one of those movies I had never heard of before that
I ran across doing research, and decided to give it a shot. My biggest
problem with Strings is that the puppets do not move their mouths,
which made it a little hard to follow as the dialogue as it switched
back and forth between characters. Once your able to get past that -
this is really a beautiful little film.
A little over-dramatic but with some pretty high production values, "Strings" is unlike no movie you have seen before. The cinematography, voice overs, and set designs are well done and very pleasing to watch and to listen to all throughout.
One thing I enjoyed about "Strings" was the how the actual strings were incorporated in the movie. There is no effort to hide them. In fact, the strings themselves are part of each characters actual being, reaching all the way up in to the sky with the "head" string being the strongest and most valuable. Cut the head string, and your dead! Get a little to playful, and you might get tangled and need some help getting undone! Interesting little concept.
Strings is a fantasy story about a King who commits suicide, leaving the thrown to his son. When his son is lead to believe by his evil uncle that some outside rebels are responsible for his death, he seeks out to find them and avenge his father. In the process he goes on a magical journey, learning about life, love, war, and the fact that people and things aren't always quite what they seem.
"Strings" is a film that stands on its own two feet- apart from anything else out there. All in all, it's a very impressive piece of work- and a good family oriented film.
The whole concept of strings interested me from the start, I'll admit i
have a strange fascination with puppets anyway from somewhere unknown,
i think probably Fraggle rock and that sort of thing which was
re-established when i saw 'being john Malkovich' with the beautifully
worked string puppets.
but anyway the whole concept of the strings being part of the puppet i found really enthralling, like they weren't quite in control of their own movements as we feel we aren't. the mystical scenes of the sky with strings in looked awesome.
the opening scene really captures your attention and you feel so much empathy towards the king that you forget he is a piece of wood and treat him as human from the start.
i was really intrigued with the explanations of birth and death and think they really added to make the universe seem believable.
on the whole the story was kind of predictable but in a classical fantasy way really worked in the new context. the design of all the surroundings was breathtaking, i think this would be great for kids also, despite the lack of happiness within the story
I hadn't heard anything about this (Danish!) movie until a friend
brought over a DVD he'd ordered from Thailand, of all places!
(Available from www.ethaicd.com.) Four of us watched it and agreed that
it was interesting, unique and original, but also rather dull. The
story is a stereotypical (but very decent) fantasy fairy-tale, with the
very interesting added element of the "stringed puppet reality". It
worked very well, with a quite serious and emotional story a bit
reminiscent of Gormenghast - all immensely well produced. But it wasn't
engaging enough to maintain that much enthusiasm in the viewer. It was
a bit too dark to be for children, and somewhat too, I dunno,
uninvolving to be for grown-ups. I appreciate it as an honest, very
competently produced fantasy movie with a detailed and good-looking but
also quite crude and limited universe.
I do think it would be more engaging on the big screen than on a TV screen, because I was slightly bored through much of it. Granted, I was a bit tired when we watched it, and this is not a movie one should watch while tired. But it was a very interesting experience.
7 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In a world of marionettes- the king of a great kingdom writes to his
son, giving him the throne, asking him to find peace with their mortal
enemies and warning against the evil of the king's brother. The king
then commits suicide by cutting his head string. Unfortunately the
king's act was discovered by his evil brother and the suicide is
rearranged as a murder, the perpetrator members of the very enemy the
king had wanted to find peace with. The Brother then sets in motion a
vile plan to kill his nephew and seize the throne for himself.
So begins one of the most unique films I've ever seen. Sure there have been puppet films before, but none that I've seen that have ever embraced their limitations so well that they turn them into an asset. Yes you see the strings, actually the strings are even more noticeable then they would be in a real live puppet show (and yes the characters are very aware that they have strings). The reasoning is two fold, first it creates a wonderful visual motif at times with shots using the strings to create beautiful images such as emphasizing a rain storm or the bars of a prison. The strings also are used symbolically to allude to how we are all connected, how we are often on a leash and how there may be forces (god/puppeteers) above us. Its amazing.
The best thing is that it's a great story. This is grand fantasy or grand adventure of the highest order. What happens is very human as we are forced to confront what we are told is the truth which often turns out not to be the case. It's a story of greed and hope, how your worst enemy can be your best friend, and how the sins of the fathers need not be visited on the sons. There is real pain and real danger. If this were a novel it would be a classic of the genre. Trust me I sat on the floor of my living room doing some sorting, totally and completely enraptured by what was going on because even when I wasn't looking up I was listening to a well acted (Derek Jacobi as the villain) and fantastically written story. It's the type of tale you'd curl up with on a cold winter's night before going to bed.
Yea, I liked the film.
If you want to see a great adventure, a great story, see this movie. Please don not let the fact that its marionettes keep you from seeing it. This is not for kids, or rather too small ones, since there is death and darkness, and a plot that maybe hard for them to follow. It's a kick in the head and there's a chance, at the end that maybe it will even cause a tear to run down your cheek.
See it if you get the chance.
I just recently saw this movie at the Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX, and I was blown away. One of the best and most original movies i've seen. Usually puppet movies would just pretend the strings weren't there but this movie gives life to the strings, its actually what gives them life. If thinking of seeing it. The story is great, reminds me of the Shakespeare story of I Henry IV where the prince Hal (also name of the prince in Strings) overcomes his weak character of the beginning and becomes this Christ like figure and saves the day by the end of the story. SEE IT and then get its name out there more and perhaps can get it a small theatrical release in the U.S. and other places so more people can see this great film.
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