Monday, June 20, 2011

Šwankmajer's Alice

Although it was exciting to see Jan Šwankmajer in person, it was almost better to see his feature film Alice from 1988 again and in one go.  I remember seeing it serialised on the television and noting that it was extraordinary but it was nothing to a 86 minute immersion.  What I especially liked is the fact that there is no spare animation to the frame, the editing is beautiful, the story uncompromisingly Alice (although without a Cheshire Cat - who liked him anyway?)  Alice is played by a mesmerisingly beautiful child who is appropriately bold and grubby and inclined to petty acts of malevolence.  The poor old stuffed rabbit (who was created by Eva, Šwankmajer's wife) kept leaking sawdust from a rip in his tummy and the sight was more shocking than blood would have been in it's place.  There are socks, false teeth and eyeballs collected to create a caterpillar, fish skeleton's and animated meat and then the brilliant queen, cut from playing cards who properly snips off heads here and there. 

Šwankmajer talked a little about the background to making the film, his own background (puppets), surrealism and the politics of filmmaking in the Czech Republic.  It was interesting to hear him talking unhindered with his friend (who's name I can't find), who was also a surrealist artist.   Peter Hames obviously knows his stuff but was a bit fidgety and unfocused, and the audience were very keen to chip in but the questions were mostly quite long which made them hard to translate and the so flow was generally lost after a while.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Watch me Move - The Animation Show

Wendy and I have been to the opening of Watch me Move, it's such a wopping exhibition that sensibly having put refreshments first, we weren't able to even get upstairs by the time we were ushered from the gallery.  So I don't certainly feel in a position to make a detailed report at this juncture. The early part looked really great though, very thorough, all the films that I would have in my top 20 plus many that I didn't know about or havn't seen including Percy Smith's Birth of a Flower from 1910. A very early, very poetic film capturing flowers opening using timelapse.  Smith adapted his film set-up with candle wicks, pieces of meccano, door handles and gramophone needles to record the flowers even while he slept, a large bell being set to ring and wake him up if anything went wrong!

In the exhibition space the early films were projected onto hanging cloth, the fabric creating little spaces here and there, while the films with soundtracks were three or four to a room, faced by sitting booths (modelled by Wendy  below) with speakers in the roof of the booth.  It was still hard to sequester the appropriate sound for the film you were watching, but I don't know how else you could show so many films in one space.  Headphones are tangly and impractical for projected work.   Anyway, it promises to be an exciting time with all the concomitant visitors and screenings.  I'll try and keep abreast of it all for any far away visitors to this blog.

Here is our last picture of Stromness, our friend Bec helpfully waving a white towel. Bye!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Our incredible journey

We've been to Orkney and back this week, over land and sea.  We weren't prepared for such beautiful weather*. What a splendid place, all the more so for having dear friends to visit.

*which is why I wont post a picture of us swimming Hazel