Les Jeux des Anges by Walerian Borowczyk

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Les Jeux des Anges.

Following yesterday’s post, we can be certain that Terry Gilliam had seen Les Jeux des Anges because in 2001 he included it in a list of ten favourite animated films. Jan Lenica co-directed Dom (1959) with Walerian Borowczyk but doesn’t work on this film which is the darkest and strangest of all Borowczyk’s works I’ve seen to date. Once again there’s some unavoidable subtext, although whether that applies to the Holocaust or to Stalinist repression is for the viewer to decide. What we see is a series of painted tableaux in which various mechanical processes are butchering angels. The atmosphere isn’t far removed from the cruelties of Roland Topor while the painted scenes are very similar to those that David Lynch would be animating a couple of years later. The soundtrack is credited to electronic composer Bernard Parmegiani. Watch it for yourself here.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Labirynt by Jan Lenica
Les Temps Morts by René Laloux
Short films by Walerian Borowczyk

Le Grand Macabre

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Yesterday I mentioned Leslie Megahey’s Ligeti film, All Clouds Are Clocks, an hour-long documentary based around an interview with György Ligeti filmed in 1976. A unique feature of that film was that Megahey returned to film Ligeti in the same room in 1991 where they discussed the composer’s work during the intervening period. Of these, Le Grand Macabre, written in the late 1970s, was the most ambitious piece.

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Bartók and Ligeti share some attributes: both were Hungarian, and both were forced to flee their native country. Both composers also wrote only one opera apiece. Le Grand Macabre is Ligeti’s opus, an absurdist drama based on Michel de Ghelderode‘s 1934 play, La Balade du grand macabre. In the film Ligeti explains that he didn’t want to repeat the mid-century concept of the anti-opera but was also dissatisfied with the traditional variety, hence Le Grand Macabre‘s description as an “anti-anti-opera”, a work that combines the tradition and its reaction.

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Continue reading “Le Grand Macabre”

Now we are six

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Number Six/The Prisoner (1990?) by Roland Topor.

Welcome to post number 2,618, and the sixth anniversary of this here weblog. Roland Topor’s drawing could be interpreted as a cry for help from your narrator—imprisoned by the daily necessity to file copy—but it’s there mainly because I couldn’t think of another picture featuring the requisite numeral.

WordPress’s Site Stats shows that these pages had over 2,000,000 visits in the past year, something I find very surprising. Many will be from either regular readers or one-off hits from the Google hordes searching for a particular picture but all the same…that’s a lot of people. A large percentage are no doubt visitors to the gay artists archive which continues to be the most popular page here, and one I feel compelled to keep adding to as a result. There’s always more to discover.

As always, thanks for reading and commenting!

John x

Les Temps Morts by René Laloux

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Is Les Temps Morts a French figure of speech? The phrase translates as “idle periods” as well as the more literal “dead times”, so the title of this short film from 1964 may have some punning intent. This was René Laloux’s second film as director, and one I’d not seen before until it turned up on YouTube. It’s an oddly morbid piece not far removed in tone from yesterday’s The Apotheosis of War but a dose of Surrealism courtesy of Roland Topor’s minatory imagination rescues it from Vereshchagin’s moralising.

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Between some documentary clips of children play-fighting, war scenes, bullfights and bird shoots, Topor’s scratchy ink drawings are brought to life with minimal animation. There’s also some narration in unsubtitled French. Laloux, Topor and soundtrack composer Alain Goraguer followed this with another, lighter short, The Snails (also on YouTube), in 1966, and joined forces again for Laloux’s first animated feature in 1973, the justly-celebrated Fantastic Planet, a science fiction film that’s a lot weirder than the usual Hollywood conceptions of the genre. That’s been on DVD for a while, and is essential viewing for Topor aficionados.

The schizophrenic cinema of René Laloux by Craig Keller.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Taxandria, or Raoul Servais meets Paul Delvaux

Autobahn animated

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The Düsseldorf maestros are treated to some animated illustration in this 1979 film by Roger Mainwood which takes Kraftwerk’s Autobahn as its soundtrack. Mark at Strange Attractor provided the tip and he compares the animation style to René Laloux and Roland Topor’s Fantastic Planet (1973). The purple humanoid floating through surreal landscapes is certainly reminiscent of Laloux’s film, but Autobahn also reminds me of Bruno Bozzetto’s Allegro non troppo (1977) and, given that Mainwood’s animation comes a couple of years later, it may well have been inspired by it. Bozzetto’s film is a feature-length “adult” response to Walt Disney’s Fantasia which takes the Fantasia format—well-known classical themes illustrated by animated sequences—but does so in a slightly more grotesque or risqué fashion. Much of Bozzetto’s film seems less daring today than it was in 1977 but the best sequence still works well and happens to be as science fictional as Mainwood’s Autobahn, an entire cycle of planetary evolution set to Ravel’s Bolero. Follow the links below.

• Roger Mainwood’s Autobahn pt. 1 | pt. 2
Ravel’s Bolero from Allegro non troppo

Previously on { feuilleton }
Sleeve craft
Who designed Vertigo #6360 620?
Old music and old technology
Aerodynamik by Kraftwerk
The genius of Kraftwerk