How Wings Are Attached to the Backs of Angels, a film by Craig Welch

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Craig Welch’s 11-minute film was made in 1996. It’s a beautifully drawn and conceived piece of work, vaguely surreal as animated films often are but also with some Symbolist qualities:

Welch has stated that one of the original influences for the film was Arnold Böcklin’s painting Isle of the Dead as well as Norman McLaren’s 1946 NFB animated short A Little Phantasy on a 19th-century Painting, which incorporates the Böcklin work.

A pity, then, that Welch doesn’t appear to have made anything since. Watch How Wings Are Attached to the Backs of Angels here. (And thanks to Jescie for the tip!)

Previously on { feuilleton }
Secret Joy of Falling Angels, a film by Simon Pummell
Les Jeux des Anges by Walerian Borowczyk
L’Ange by Patrick Bokanowski

Weekend links 183

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La table qui tourne (1943) by Robert Doisneau.

In [Gödel, Escher, Bach], Hofstadter was calling for an approach to AI concerned less with solving human problems intelligently than with understanding human intelligence—at precisely the moment that such an approach, having borne so little fruit, was being abandoned. His star faded quickly. He would increasingly find himself out of a mainstream that had embraced a new imperative: to make machines perform in any way possible, with little regard for psychological plausibility.

The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think by James Somers.

Whenever the latest pronouncements about the imminent arrival of artificial intelligence are being trotted out I wonder what Douglas Hofstadter would have to say on the matter. You don’t hear much about Hofstadter despite his having been involved for decades in artificial intelligence research. One reason is that he’s always been concerned with the deep and difficult problems posed by intelligence and consciousness, subjects which don’t make for sensational, Kurzweilian headlines. Hofstadter’s essays on AI (and many other topics) in Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern (1985) are essential reading. James Somers’ lengthy profile for The Atlantic is a welcome reappraisal.

• The end of October brings the spooky links: When Edward Gorey illustrated Dracula |Paula Marantz Cohen on Edgar Allan Poe | Yasmeen Khan revisits Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu | Roger Luckhurst on horror from the Gothics to the present day, and Michael Newton on Gothic cinema.

•  Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore is a biography of the Northampton magus by Lance Parkin. The author talks about his book here, and also here where if you look carefully you can see my Lovecraft book on his shelf.

• A crop of Halloween mixes: Boo, Forever by Jescie | Samhain Seance 2: Hex with a Daemon by The Ephemeral Man | Wizards Tell Lies & The Temple of Doom by The Curiosity Pipe | Radio Belbury’s Programme 11.

The Book of the Lost is an album by Emily Jones & The Rowan Amber Hill presenting music from imaginary British horror films. Release is set for Halloween. More details here.

Laura Allsop on Derek Jarman’s sketchbooks. Jarman’s Black Paintings are currently showing at the Wilkinson Gallery, London.

Magick is Freedom! Existence Is Unhappiness: Barney Bubbles vs. Graham Wood.

• Soho Dives, Soho Divas: Rian Hughes on sketching London’s burlesque artists.

Jenny Diski on the perennial problem of owning too many books.

Equus through the years by Clive Hicks-Jenkins.

Virgin Records: 40 Years of Disruptions

• At BibliOdyssey: Chromatic Wood Type

Witches at Pinterest

The Witch (1964) by The Sonics | My Girlfriend Is A Witch (1968) by October Country | You Must Be A Witch (1968) by The Lollipop Shoppe

The writhing on the wall

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Dracula (1992).

This is the closest you’ll get to a guest post here even though it’s been done remotely and I’ve changed things around a little. Following my mention yesterday of the Cocteau-derived lantern-arms in Francis Coppola’s Dracula, Jescie sent me an abandoned blog post which collected similar examples of the arms-through-the-walls motif. I’ve done this kind of thing here in the past so it’s good {feuilleton} material. Almost all these examples are fantasy- and horror-related which isn’t too surprising, and I’m sure there’ll be other examples in films I haven’t seen. If anyone has any suggestions just remember that hands grasping through doors and windows don’t count with this, it’s through the wall or not at all.

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La Belle et la Bête (1946).

Jean Cocteau sets things off in 1946, a perfect piece of fairytale Surrealism and one of the many memorable aspects of this film.

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La Belle et la Bête (1946).

Continue reading “The writhing on the wall”

À Rebours illustrated

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Not a comprehensive post by any means but a few items worthy of note for readers of Joris-Karl Huysmans’ Decadent classic. The Vera Bock cover is from a 1937 American edition which turned up here last year. Thanks to Jescie for drawing my attention to the presence of my Haunter of the Dark collection on the same site. Vera Bock is an unusual choice of illustrator for this particular novel, there’s more of her work and details of her career at A Journey Round My Skull.

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Auguste Leroux’s edition (above & below) is from 1920 and can be downloaded at the Internet Archive although the copy there seems to have had many of its full-page plates stolen. The artist produced an illustrated Memoirs of Casanova a few years later and he seems here to have concentrated on the more salacious aspects of Huysmans’ story, as with this brothel scene which is missing from the scanned edition. His depiction of Des Esseintes looks too middle-aged for me but the rendering of the unfortunate jewelled tortoise could hardly be bettered.

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Browsing the archives at Gallica turned up this extraordinary Art Nouveau edition from 1903 illustrated and embellished on every page by Auguste Lèpere. This would be an excessively lavish treatment for most books but for a story of aesthetic obsession it seems quite appropriate. Gallica also allows the downloading of many of their documents although that function kept failing my attempts. But this volume really does need to be seen in its entirety.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Arthur Zaidenberg’s À Rebours

Infernal entrances

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L’Enfer, Boulevard de Clichy (1911).

A recent posting at The Haunted Lamp showed the interior of L’Enfer, a Montmartre cabaret which described itself as “unique au monde”, pictured here in a memorable photo by Eugène Atget. The interior and portions of the exterior were certainly unique enough, and look like they were created by the same people who designed the carnival show for Harry Lachman’s film Dante’s Inferno (1935), but the yawning mouth as an entrance isn’t without precedent. Some prior examples follow.

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Palazzo Zuccari.

L’Enfer is long gone, unfortunately, but the entrance to the Palazzo Zuccari in the Via Gregoriana, Rome, is still extant despite being hundreds of years older. I was hoping that Google’s Street View would have some good pictures but they managed to capture the building in the midst of renovation. A friend of mine was working at an office in this street when I was in Rome in 1993 and the yawning mouths and windows are a very curious sight in a narrow road near the Spanish Steps. Flickr has better views, here, here and here.

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Ogre, Parco dei Mostri.

The Rome palazzo is named after the Mannerist artist who lived there, Federico Zuccari (c. 1542/1543–1609), and Zuccari’s inspiration for his doorway came from another Mannerist creation, the Parco dei Mostri at Bomarzo. The mouth in this case isn’t an entrance to the underworld but a devouring ogre, and one of the park’s many grotesque attractions. I wonder if this was also an inspiration for the giant floating head in John Boorman’s ludicrous science fiction film, Zardoz (1974).

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Moulin Rouge!

And speaking of films, Baz Luhrmann used the L’Enfer entrance as a gateway to Montmartre itself in the zooming shot which opens Moulin Rouge!. I like that idea, as though it’s an iniquitous equivalent of the old Temple Bar gateway to the City of London. For more pictures of L’Enfer, and details of its history, see here and here. If anyone knows of any other notable doorways like these, please leave a comment.

Update: Nathalie found another Bomarzo influence while Jescie on Twitter drew my attention to a set from this German film.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Villa d’Este
Harry Lachman’s Inferno
Atget’s Paris