Scarabus, a film by Gérald Frydman

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Another tip from Philip Strick’s Science Fiction Movies (1976) (previously) that’s also another short animated film I hadn’t seen before. Gérald Frydman is a Belgian director, and Scarabus (1971) was his debut film. As with a number of the selections in Strick’s book, Scarabus tends more towards Surrealism than science fiction, although this always depends how broadly you define SF: identical men in black clothes populate a crumbling urban environment where much of the architecture is inside out and upside down, and unidentified yellow blobs clutter the place. Airships drift overhead while the men interact with each other, sometimes in a violent manner. The meaning may be elusive but it’s all very well done, and the film was later chosen to accompany the French theatrical screenings of Alain Resnais’s Providence. That’s what I call a good night out.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Labirynt by Jan Lenica

Hamfat Asar, a film by Lawrence Jordan

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I was reminded of Lawrence/Larry Jordan recently when reading Deborah Solomon’s biography of Joseph Cornell, Utopia Parkway, in which Jordan receives passing mention for helping Cornell with some of his film work in the 1960s. One of Jordan’s short films was featured here in 2014 but I’d not been very diligent in looking for more, a considerable oversight when he was an early and accomplished practitioner of animation using collaged engravings and illustrations. He wasn’t the only animator producing work like this in the 1960s, Harry Smith, Jan Lenica and Walerian Borowczyk also used these methods, but Jordan seemed to favour the idiom more than others.

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Hamfat Asar dates from 1965, and is immediately notable for moving its collaged figures over a shoreline landscape which remains fixed for the entire running time. The narrative, such as it is, concerns a stilt-walking figure attempting to cross from one side of the screen to the other but whose progress is continually impeded by a succession of figures, creatures and bizarre assemblages. The film has been described as representing “a vision of life beyond death” although this isn’t very evident at all. Jordan’s films are much more Surreal in the true sense of the word than many other collage animations which tend towards satire or comedy, Terry Gilliam’s work for Monty Python being an obvious example of the latter. The combination of Surreal engravings with black-and-white film stock gives Hamfat Asar a distinct Max Ernst flavour, which is no bad thing. Watch it here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Carabosse, a film by Lawrence Jordan
Labirynt by Jan Lenica
Science Friction by Stan VanDerBeek
Heaven and Earth Magic by Harry Smith
Short films by Walerian Borowczyk

Carabosse, a film by Lawrence Jordan

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Collage animators may not be as plentiful as collage artists but this branch of filmmaking has attracted a number of heavyweight talents including Harry Smith, Jan Lenica, Walerian Borowczyk and Terry Gilliam. Lawrence Jordan worked for a time as an assistant to Joseph Cornell but he’s been making short films since the 1950s, many of which involve animated collage. Carabosse (1980) is a brief and distinctly Surreal piece set to Erik Satie’s Gnossienne No. 4. (An earlier film is titled Gymnopédies.) Watch it here. (Thanks to Erik Davis for the tip!)

Previously on { feuilleton }
Labirynt by Jan Lenica
Science Friction by Stan VanDerBeek
Heaven and Earth Magic by Harry Smith
Short films by Walerian Borowczyk

L’Araignéléphant

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L’Araignéléphant (1967) is another of the strange animations made by Piotr Kamler in the 1960s and 1970s, this one being a 9-minute piece concerning the travails of “the spiderelephant”. As with Kamler’s Le labyrinthe, the music is by the French electroacoustic composer Bernard Parmegiani whose death was announced this week, hence the link. Parmegiani had a varied career which included scores for a number of other films (among them a Jan Lenica short, A, which I’ve not been able to find), and more commercial music than people at his serious end of the composition scale usually produce.

Ubuweb has a selection of Parmegiani’s longer compositions, one of which, Pop’eclectic (1969–1973), chops up pop and classical recordings (spot the Small Faces!) in a manner which would become commonplace a decade or so later with the advent of sampling. The Kamler films, meanwhile, are all available on a single DVD where the narration for L’Araignéléphant—which doesn’t explain very much—is subtitled.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Psyché Rock
Le labyrinthe and Coeur de secours
Chronopolis by Piotr Kamler

The poster art of Akiko Stehrenberger

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W.E. (2011).

Being someone who enjoys adopting and pastiching different art and design styles for different projects I naturally like to see other people doing the same. American illustrator and designer Akiko Stehrenberger is very adept at using this approach for her film posters. Without knowing the identity of the person responsible you wouldn’t guess that they were all the work of the same person.

The Madonna and Polanski posters are the two most overt pastiches, being based respectively on the paintings of Tamara de Lempicka, and the posters by Jan Lenica for Polanski’s Repulsion and Cul-de-Sac. Good as the poster for W.E. is, it seems the studio preferred a more cliched “romantic” treatment for their international sales. Stehrenberger’s Mac desktop design for Burn After Reading was dropped in favour of yet another Saul Bass pastiche. (As a sidenote I’d suggest a moratorium on imitating Saul Bass for the time being; it’s getting boring.) The Lost Highway design isn’t a poster but I added it here since it’s a surprising take on David Lynch’s noir piece. I like the way the dotted line can be taken either as road markings or a line signifying the division in the film between the separate storylines and the separated characters.

Akiko Stehrenberger talked to Adrian Curry earlier this year about her favourite film posters.

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Burn After Reading (2008).

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Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (2008).

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Lost Highway (Spanish Blu-ray cover).

Previously on { feuilleton }
La Belle et la Bête posters
Dr Mabuse posters
The poster art of Frank McCarthy
Repulsion posters
The poster art of Vic Fair
Petulia film posters
Lucifer Rising posters
Wild Salomés
Druillet’s vampires
Bob Peak revisited
Alice in Acidland
Salomé posters
Polish posters: Freedom on the Fence
Kaleidoscope: the switched-on thriller
The Robing of The Birds
Franciszek Starowieyski, 1930–2009
Dallamano’s Dorian Gray
Czech film posters
The poster art of Richard Amsel
Bollywood posters
Lussuria, Invidia, Superbia
The poster art of Bob Peak
A premonition of Premonition
Metropolis posters
Film noir posters