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I saw this at the 2007 Palm Springs Festival of Short Films and it's a stunningly well made visual and audio experience. This is the story of Madame Tutli-Putli, who in her 1920's era clothing boards a train with all her earthly possessions packed in dozens of suitcases and trunks and heads into the evening sharing a car with two men playing chess, a man and is son and a menacing-looking and acting man who she all see's as people from her past. She descends into a nightmare as the train rolls across the remote Canadian countryside. This film won the Best Animated Short at the Toronto Worldwide Short film Festival. Fimmakers Chris Lewis and Maciek Tomaszewski are the writers, directors, editors, sculptors, art directors and animators of this stop action puppet short. They used sets combined with animation and used models for each puppet to correspond with the animation and filmed live action eyes for each puppet which both combined give these stop action puppets a half human looking appearance. The Sound team of David Bryant, Oliver Calvert and Gordon Krieger have put together a great film track and Bryant teams with Jean Frédéric for the film's wonderful mysterious musical score. Josh Walker provides special effects and Laurie Maher photographs. Lewis and Tomaszewski researched and formulated ideas for this film on a train trip across Canada. They have a cult following with their comic strip Untold Tales of Yuri Gatarin. I would give this a 9.0 out of 10 and hope to see more from these filmmakers.
With a name like Tutli-Putli, one can expect many things. But one will
not expect the marvelous short film Lavis and Szczerbowski will present
you. Though the name sounds kinda ridiculous (and is reminiscent of
oddly creepy characters from children's tales), it's actually a Hindu
word referencing "puppet" and "delicate women". Bet you didn't expect
Madame Tutli-Putli is a 17-minute, stop-motion animation short. Now, I'm a big fan of stop-motion already, but the work of both directors takes this particular field in cinema way beyond.
Looking at the credits, you'll see that both directors did a lot of the work themselves. From script to art direction to animation to sculpting, it's all very much their own blood, sweat and tears. Typical for such films (where directors are playing a key role in most aspects of the production), Madame Tutli-Putli has a very characteristic and detailed feel to it.
The most striking element of the film are the visuals, which are beyond impressive. The combination of agile camera work with the animation of the puppets is simply nutters. A lot of effort was spent on getting the lighting just right, the puppets look gorgeous and the setting just oozes detail. The visual impression reminded me of the work of Pitoff and Caro, set in a universe that could've easily been that of Les Triplettes de Belleville.
The animation itself is quite slick and solid, without losing the stop-motion feel. Another eerie detail are the eyes of the puppets, which were filmed in real life, then superposed on the puppets. They've tried a similar technique with mouths before, but never to good effect. With the eyes it works miraculously, giving the puppets that little extra bit of humanity.
Apart from the stunning visuals, the film boasts a marvelous score, starting off rather jazzy and ending in more ethereal sounds as the film progresses. It's nice to see that the same level of detail went into creating and timing the soundtrack, something which is often overlooked.
The film is short, making the story rather confusing the first time around. There is no dialog and little time to grasp the realm of Madame Tutli-Putli. The whole story develops inside the train and transcends normal storytelling by the end of the film. Personally, I liked the feel of the ending, although I haven't been able to make much sense of it so far.
If I had to name one downside, it would be the length of the film. I realize the amount of work that goes into creating a short like this is tremendous, but in the end it does feel rather short and I wouldn't have minded to sit through another solid 40 minutes of Madame Tutli-Putli.
This short is a marvel in the realm of stop-motion film. A true milestone project that will hopefully keep the genre alive. Sadly, it's another short film and no full length feature, but hopefully this film might give Lavis and Szczerbowski the funding to create a feature film in the near future. Definitely recommended, 4.5*/5*
Madame Tutli-Putli is, quite simply, the greatest stop-motion short
film I have ever seen, and I have seen quite a few. If you thought all
that stop-motion films could be are comedic romps without any emotional
weight, Madame Tutli-Putli proves you wrong. But the film also does not
fall into the trap of becoming a self-indulgent showpiece, which, with
so many years of work the filmmakers put into this, might as well have
Additional props must go to the music score, which fits the film's mood perfectly and greatly enhances the spectrum of emotions the viewer will experience while watching Madame Tutli-Putli.
Touching and poignant, this is 2007's best short film.
This was an astounding, haunting little film. The protagonist has this eerie Buster Keaton look about her and the subtlety and realism of her expressions is extraordinary. It's like no stop motion animation I've ever seen. The protagonist is this small, put upon woman who embarks on a train journey with what appear to be all her worldly possessions. She speaks not a word the entire time, but her gestures and her giant silent film star eyes are incredibly evocative as she faces small insults and later very real threats on her journey. Try to catch a screening of this amazing tiny gem if you can, or order it via Netflix. It's absolutely worth it.
Madame Tutli-Putli is one of five Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short of 2007. I saw this Canadian effort on a link from Cartoon Brew. It basically tells, in silent form with luminous musical scoring throughout, a story of a young woman with plenty of baggage, both literally and figuratively, on a train as it travels during the day and night with other people and insects who may or may not be figments of her imagination. I admired many of the images and the way various cuts and movements were made yet there was a confusing air that wasn't entirely satisfied by the end. It's obviously supposed to be dreamlike in a kind of abstract quality but that wasn't enough for me to think this was one of the best animated efforts of the previous year. Still, it was certainly unique so on that note, I'd recommend Madame Tulti-Putli to anyone with a real sense of imagination.
This is one of the most visually striking short films I have ever seen.
In fact, I was stunned by the animation style that I immediately
checked around the internet to try to determine HOW they did this film.
One claimed they were puppets with real sets but I couldn't get much
more about it--and I really hope they release a film showing how they
made it. The film is so unique, so beautiful and such an artistic
triumph that you really cannot appreciate the look of the film until
you see it for yourself. In light of this, I am not at all surprised
that it's been nominated for an Academy Award--we'll just have to wait
and see if it wins.
As for the story, it's best described as confusing and practically insignificant. It's as if the film is an artist's pallet and you watch and absorb the film--meaning and significance are really up to the beholder. Other than it's obvious Madame Tutli-Pulti has gotten on a very strange and surrealistic train, I really am not sure what it was all about and that, for once, is okay with me. You just have to see it to believe it.
UPDATE---This is the day before the Oscars are announced for 2008 and I just got back from a special screening by our local film society of all five films nominated in the category of Best Animated Short Film. This film was among the five and I was surprised that my reaction to the film differed, somewhat, the second time. First, on a big screen, Madame and the other characters were significantly uglier and creepier, though the sets and effects were still amazing. Second, the story was still weird and incomprehensible! I predict that although this film is very different and likable, it probably won't win the Oscar as "Même les pigeons vont au paradis" and "Moya lyubov" were among the nominees and seemed like better films.
ANOTHER UPDATE--2/24/08--The Oscar was just announced and the winner in this category was PETER & THE WOLF.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Clyde Henry Productions spent a considerable 5 years to make this short
film. In the day and nights they worked, they cannot avoid the question
of what message they want to deliver. Even if they chose to leave it
open, they had enough time to ponder about it.
I think the message is the acceptance of death.
Our protagonist Madame Tutli-Putli, is dead already, when she boards the train. Why she doesn't instead board a ferry across the Rivers Styx? Because all these, Styx, ferry, are abstract, and subject to personal interpretation. The Greeks who invented the ferry on Styx do so because they live with rivers and ferries. A modern Canadian should take a train, as they are used to. A China man took the Helpless bridge 奈何桥 over the Yellow Spring (黄泉), accordingly. They just go through this phase in the way they are most familiar with.
Let's look at the two man playing chess. When should someone be wrapped in a case and delivered to some other place? Mail-order bride does not happen often; the usual case is delivery of bone ashes. So they are both dead, too. The chess game can be a picture of their lives: their is a loser and there is a winner, but they failed to do any meaningful move. The destiny decides. The child died with deep grudge against his enemy; we can only guess what happened.
Madame Tutli-Putli cannot leave her past behind. People like her would have her memory purged by force after-death. In typical Chinese myth the instrument for this is a bow of nepenthe soup (孟婆湯). I am guessing every culture has their instruments. And in the film, that nepenthe is a poisoned yellow gas.
She saw it coming, as she see the train stops in some lifeless woods. The Chinese equivalent is a small tavern on the road to the Yellow Spring, where dead travellers sit and sign before they drink the soup that purges their memory: in the very tavern they were told that nothing they can carry on the road onward. This is what happened in the movie: Tutli-Putli tried to write something, but soon the gas fills the train and she loses every possession. We even don't know the name of her beloved, whom she is trying to address. The struggle to carry possessions and names on board was a struggle in vain.
In the moment the poison purges memory, she sees the memory of others, perhaps because the gas takes away the memory of everyone and they were mixed. She sees that the man sitting opposite to her died and someone took his organs. He died a miserable death and she is frightened.
Waking up with all memories lost, she run aimlessly towards the light, feeling sorry that she is an empty body with no past. She eventually throw herself into a light, and thus embraced death.
She was alone when she run towards the light. Where is every other dead person? My guess is they are gone before her, and she is the last to obtain rebirth. Her burden was the greatest. Her departure with her past particularly more difficult.
What does the film say? Modern technology and superior condition of life made people live longer, but it also makes the acceptance of death more difficult. In the past, men don't decide to die. You don't go through acceptance of death, you simply die. Instead of finding death, death finds you and fall upon you. By 2007, when the movie produced, things are much more different. Men are more likely to die of cancer, which is a failure of own facility. Unlike other diseases that were boldly challenged and conquered, in this game you can fight, but you probably won't win (the chess scene). To let the audience have a look of what will happen, how should it happen, relieves you from the horror of death, which possesses you ever since you get old. To the less rapt audience, the film is rich of techniques that keeps you focused. It wins all kinds of audiences.
strange option for its viewers. and real useful. because it seems not have a subject. but this fact is only a detail .because you could be one of its characters. the story is a trip in a large yard of significances, cultural references, it could have so many explanations than becomes an adventure. it is easy to describe it as a labyrinth but , after its end, you understand to be more. the great animation, the chains of details , the each gesture and the single word, the terror birth by profound ambiguity are pieces who defines it. a film for great patience and large imagination. a magic one for the feeling after its final. and for the special form of sympathy for madame Tutli - Putli.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This short was nominated for an Oscar for Animated Short. There will be
This short starts out with the titular character standing on a train station platform with all the baggage of a human life with her. She suddenly winds up on board a train with said baggage in the strangest train compartment possible. Robert Bloch would be impressed. A strange chess game and the creepiest tennis player ever round out the background to Madame's journey into a nightmare.
Madame recovers from an enforced "sleep" to find herself in an otherwise empty compartment after having a "dream" or "nightmare" which may or may not have been imagined. She winds up out in the corridor and goes deeper into the strangeness. Ultimately, this leads to a fascinating and visually beautiful, if predictable ending.
This has given me more than a few shudders and is rather creepy but is also visually fascinating and exceptional in its detail. The plot is relatively simple and a bit obvious in spots. But it's an excellent example of stop motion animation and very memorable.
A production of the National Film Board of Canada, this short is well worth watching and most recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you have not yet seen this short film, there's only one true piece
of advice I'd like to give you for the road: When you're ready to
watch, make sure your room is completely darkened and see it on a big
screen if you have one. This will increase your viewing experience
Now this is truly one spooky little thing. A woman stands at a station and the the first very haunting moment happens already right before she enters the train, namely when she looks at the viewer with her haggard face which is scarred like she's some kind of fire victim, just like all the other skin we see from her.
I won't go too much into detail on the plot, but the animators did a good job with all the other creatures in the train and the way they act enigmatically adds a lot to the harrowing atmosphere. You need to experience it yourself. What is dream, what is real? The title sounds quirky, goofy to me, really like the exact opposite of what this nightmarish short-film actually is.
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