Edge of Alchemy, a film by Stacey Steers

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Stacey Steers’ Edge of Alchemy (2017) presents a unique approach to collage animation by combining backgrounds, objects and creatures taken from engraved illustrations with characters lifted from early cinema. The latter are two of the stars of the silent screen, Mary Pickford and Janet Gaynor, whose roles in several films are repurposed by Steers into a wordless 20-minute exploration of weird science: Pickford becomes “The Scientist”, a part she never would have been allowed to play in the silent days, while Gaynor is “The Creature”, a plant woman born from the Scientist’s experiments whose first appearance in bandages is borrowed from The Bride of Frankenstein. Bees proliferate in this scenario, very large ones with which the Creature has a natural affinity. The cumulative effect is like seeing Wilfried Sätty’s collages brought to life, in particular those in his first two books which incorporated photographic material with the engravings. The icing on the cake is a choral score by Lech Jankowski, best known for the music he composed for several of the Quay Brothers’ films.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Still Life, a film by Connor Griffith
Hamfat Asar, a film by Lawrence Jordan
Carabosse, a film by Lawrence Jordan
Labirynt by Jan Lenica
Heaven and Earth Magic by Harry Smith

2 thoughts on “Edge of Alchemy, a film by Stacey Steers”

  1. Very interesting experimental film! It seems incredible that it took five years to make. By the way, the “scientist” actress is Mary Pickford, not Lilian Gish!

  2. Thanks, I’m rather busy with work at the moment so wasn’t paying attention there. An unforgivable error considering I’ve watched both Gish and Pickford in different films.

    I was wondering if she’d used optical printing to make some (or all) of this, rather than digital means. The edges of the cut-out images have a quavering quality that you see more often in analogue processes. If so this might account for the time spent on its production.

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