A delicate and secluded ceramist sees his orderly life turn upside down, when a gigantic hand in a white glove invades his space, demanding that a sculpture of itself is made. When will the hand's obstinate demands stop?
Although this film is clearly a short at twenty minutes, it packs in more plot than most feature films. It does this through exposition which is aided by the lack of moving images. The majority of this film consists of slideshow like stills explained by an unseen narrator. By limiting the action to these still shots, Ruiz manages to force the viewer to focus on his carefully arranged images while at the same time economically moving the plot along. It's hard to imagine a more efficient way of expressing a story while making a visual impact.
The film gets its name from the dogs which occasionally appear in brief interludes to the action: in some of the few scenes which feature moving images they can be seen struggling with one another and barking incessantly. Perhaps this barking is meant to complement the narration or maybe even suggest the pointlessness of telling such a fatalistic story: is the explanation of the film's narrator ultimately any more meaningful than the barking of a dog? The sense of pre-determined, static destiny one gets while watching implies that it is not.
The narrative features prostitution, suicide, murder, and gender confusion. While this subject matter is of course titillating the aspect that makes it most interesting is the symmetry. The parallels between the first part and the second part (with a linking event in the middle that implies duality) are impossible to ignore. Ultimately, the narrative consists of a cycle which is neither begun by birth nor ended by death. The continuation of this cycle is always logical but never predictable.
This film was quite unique and I have to say that it's ultimately a more powerful film than Chris Marker's similarly executed 1962 film La Jetee. For that matter, I would have to say it's the best short I've ever seen.
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