Short films by Walerian Borowczyk

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Les Astronautes (1959).

A nice collection of shorts by Walerian Borowczyk (1923–2006) at Ubuweb including this animated piece from 1959 which was co-directed by Chris Marker. The style is immediately reminiscent of that employed by Raoul Servais in Harpya and other films; it’s also not far removed from Terry Gilliam’s animation but it predates both. Also of note is Une Collection Particulière from 1973, a brief but fascinating look at a collection of antique pornographic toys and other adult items from the collection of Pieyre De Mandiargues. And L’Amour Monstre de tous les Temps from 1977 is a portrait of contemporary erotic Surrealist painter Ljuba Popovic at work. Borowczyk spent the Seventies making soft porn features such as Immoral Tales and The Beast, so the subject matter of the later films isn’t so surprising.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Taxandria, or Raoul Servais meets Paul Delvaux
Monsieur Chat
The Brothers Quay on DVD
Sans Soleil
Barta’s Golem
The art of Ljuba Popovic

Taxandria, or Raoul Servais meets Paul Delvaux

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La Rue du Tramway (1938) by Paul Delvaux.

Taxandria (1994) is a feature-length fantasy film by Belgian animator Raoul Servais that’s received little attention outside his native country, possibly because it failed in the marketplace and has been deemed too weird or uncommercial to export. You only have to compare the export version of Harry Kümel’s Malpertuis with his original cut to see how inventive Belgian films are treated by US distributors.

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Servais had previously made an acclaimed animated short, Harpya, using a combination of live actors and painted backgrounds. Taxandria elaborates on this process (called Servaisgraphy by its inventor) using settings designed by one of my favourite comic artists François Schuiten, creator (with Benoît Peeters) of Les Cités Obscures. Taxandria intrigues for a third reason, the inspiration of Surrealist master Paul Delvaux whose paintings served as the origin of the project. And it also contains a remarkable detail in the screenplay credit for Alain Robbe-Grillet, a man better known for making Last Year at Marienbad with Alain Resnais, and the kind of fierce intellectual one imagines would usually run a mile from this kind of extravagant whimsy.

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