Stille Nacht V: Dog Door

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A short animation by the Brothers Quay which I evidently missed last year when I was searching for their uncollected works. As far as I’m aware this is the most recent addition to the Stille Nacht series, all of which were made to serve some function external to the films themselves: so Stille Nacht I was an MTV ident, II was a music video for His Name Is Alive, III was an extended trailer/preview for Institute Benjamenta, and IV was another music video for His Name Is Alive.

Number V in the series is another music video, this time for Sparklehorse’s Dog Door, a song from the group’s 2001 album It’s A Wonderful Life. Tom Waits is the guest vocalist providing his usual enigmatic wailing. The video was one of several commissioned to illustrate the album’s songs but the Quays still manage to make something that’s very much their own. As with the His Name Is Alive films there’s an atmosphere of polymorphous perversity via the two characters of a masturbating dog (or is it a fox?) and a recumbent doll, also masturbating. A slogan at the end states in French “You’re never too young for debauchery”. (In the earlier videos there was another doll and a toy rabbit.) Copies on YouTube are rough but for the moment it’s the only way you’ll see this one.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets
Brothers Quay scarcities
Crossed destinies revisited
Crossed destinies: when the Quays met Calvino
The Brothers Quay on DVD

Brothers Quay scarcities

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Igor: The Paris Years (1982).

More animation, and scarce in the sense that some of these films were omitted from the core Quay Brothers canon released in the UK by the BFI as Quay Brothers: The Short Films 1979-2003. Quay obsessives such as myself would have been happy to pay for an extra disc featuring more of their oeuvre but we can at least turn to YouTube to fill in some gaps. This is by no means everything so I may add more discoveries at a later date. Some of the DVD-issued films can be seen on the BFI’s official Daily Motion channel.

I was eager to see the Stravinsky film again having watched it one time only in a Channel 4 screening some 25 years ago. After a fresh viewing it’s not as impressive as I remembered, in part because the Quay’s distinctive approach to animation—and filmmaking generally—developed a great deal following the unforgettable Street of Crocodiles (1986). Igor: The Paris Years concerns the composer’s relationship with Jean Cocteau and Vladimir Mayakovsky, all of whom are animated as cut-out figures in a Modernist cityscape with The Rite of Spring playing on a piano.

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Leos Janácek: Intimate Excursions (1983). Part 2 is here.

In a similar vein, but more successful, is this portrait of Czech composer Leos Janácek. This uses the same cut-out character style but places the composer in Eastern European settings similar (down to the floating tram pantographs) to those seen in the very first Quay film, Nocturna Artificialia (1979). Among the other puppet characters there’s one figure singing an aria who later appears as Enkidu in This Unnameable Little Broom (1985).

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Old Piano (1988).

A very short (and poor quality) ident for MTV.

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