Weekend links 733


Armenian postage stamps for this year’s Sergei Parajanov centenary.

• At Criterion.com: David Hudson on 100 Years of Sergei Parajanov. The director is honoured with postage stamps and endless plaudits but when do we get blu-ray releases of more of the films that created all this attention in the first place?

• Steven Heller helps round off a noir-themed week with a look back at New York, the city where letterers never sleep. See also Berenice Abbott’s Changing New York.

• New music: Natur by KMRU; Associated Tone Services by Associated Tone Services; The Berklee Sessions by Scanner & Neil Leonard.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Hyper realistic pencil drawings of metallic objects by Kohei Ohmori.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: You are there: Les Cabarets du Ciel et de l’Enfer.

Chris Corsano’s favourite albums.

Signs by Daniel McKee.

• RIP Robert Towne.

Ciel Ouvert (1985) by Yello | Ciels Ténébreuse (1990) by :Zoviet*France: | Monter Au Ciel (1994) by Transglobal Underground

Weekend links 732


Chasing Fireflies, A Lady of the Tenmei Era, from the series Thirty-six Elegant Selections (1894) by Mizuno Toshikata.

• While working on the Herald of Ruin cover late last year I was wondering when we might get to see the BFI or Eureka releasing Louis Feuillade’s silent serials on Region B blu-ray discs. Six months later, Eureka have announced this very thing: Louis Feuillade: The Complete Crime Serials (1913–1918), a box comprising the Gaumont restorations of Fantômas, Les Vampires, Judex and Tih Minh. I’ll probably have more to say about this in September.

• At A Year In The Country: Wyrd Explorations: A Decade Of Wandering Through Spectral Fields, a book which collects revised and extended pieces from the first ten years of A Year In The Country posts.

• At The Paris Review: Eliza Barry Callahan visits and revisits Joseph Cornell’s house at 37-08 Utopia Parkway, NYC.

• New music: Jinxed By Being by Shackleton & Six Organs of Admittance.

• Browse artworks by Pablo Picasso at the Picasso Museum, Paris.

• At Unquiet Things: Victor Kalin’s Paradoxical Paperback Art.

Strange Transmissions: The World Of Experimental Radio.

• At Dennis Cooper’s it’s Satoshi Kon‘s Day.

Aaron Turner’s favourite music.

• DJ Food’s haul of Acid Badges.

Acid Head (1966) by The Velvet Illusions | Acid Heart Mother (2000) by Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. | Acid Death Picnic (2013) by Cavern Of Anti-Matter

Oz: The Tin Woodsman’s Dream, a film by Harry Smith


Ubuweb slipped into archival stasis earlier this year, which means that everything uploaded there will remain as it is but we won’t be seeing anything new. I don’t know when this Harry Smith short was posted there but it’s one I haven’t seen before. (There’s also a copy at Rarefilmm where I evidently missed it.) Oz, The Tin Woodsman’s Dream was made in 1967, and is one of the fragments of a much longer film that would have adapted L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz using a similar cutout animation technique to that deployed by Smith for Heaven and Earth Magic. The adaptation remained unfinished after Smith’s backer died but the extant pieces (including another self-contained short, The Magic Mushroom People of Oz) show him working in widescreen 35mm for the first time.


All of Smith’s films were given opus-style numbers: Heaven and Earth Magic is no. 12, The Magic Mushroom People of Oz is no. 13, and The Tin Woodsman’s Dream is no. 16. As with the films of Len Lye and other animation pioneers, Smith’s early shorts are often given a “psychedelic” label even when they predate the popular use of the term. The Tin Woodsman’s Dream is one of those where the psychedelic quotient becomes overt, comprising a few minutes of animated play with the title character and a small dog, followed by many minutes of kaleidoscoped film footage that’s more redolent of its period than Smith’s other films. I’m happy to watch the kaleidoscopics but this is the kind of thing that any number of film-makers might easily do. The Woodsman, the dog and the other characters are inhabitants of Smith’s inner landscape, as are the fly agaric mushrooms that appear here and in his other films. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see more of them. There’s no soundtrack for this film so you can either watch the gesticulations in a Stan Brakhage silence or find 15 minutes of music to match the visuals.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Number 10: Mirror Animations, a film by Harry Smith
Number 11: Mirror Animations, a film by Harry Smith
Meeting Harry Smith by Drew Christie
Heaven and Earth Magic by Harry Smith
Harry Smith revisited
The art of Harry Smith, 1923–1991

Phaeton: The Son of the Sun


The animation collection at the Internet Archive has been improving of late, with a wider variety of uploads being added to the already copious quantities of American cartoons and Japanese anime. Last week I drew attention to Jan Lenica’s Adam 2. This week it’s the turn of Phaeton: The Son of the Sun (1972), a short Russian film written and directed by Vasiliy Livanov which is a curious combination of ancient myth and science fiction. Phaeton in Greek mythology was the son of Helios the sun god, a minor deity whose demise is related in the first part of Livanov’s film. The son takes his father’s fiery chariot for a ride across the sky after being warned about the damage the chariot’s flames may cause if it strays to close to the world below or too far from it. Phaeton’s poor horsemanship provokes a spate of natural disasters until Zeus ends the ride with a fatal thunderbolt.


This tale of cosmological destruction informs the “Phaeton hypothesis”, a 17th-century theory which sought to explain the existence of the Solar System’s asteroid belt as the remains of a destroyed planet, a body which a German linguist, Johann Gottlieb Radlof, named after the doomed god. The second part of Livanov’s film concerns a group of cosmonauts being launched into the asteroids in order to investigate the theory. The film is too short to properly explore the subject but the discussion detours briefly into ancient astronaut territory; Livanov had evidently been reading one or more of Erich von Däniken’s specious books which were topping the bestseller lists in 1972. One of the “astronaut” figures seen during the explication is the same Japanese figurine that von Däniken reproduces in Chariots of the Gods?, a book whose title echoes the theme of Livanov’s film. Short as it is, Phaeton: The Son of the Sun is nicely styled, and features the voice of Nikolay Burlyaev, an actor familiar to Tarkovsky aficionados as the boy in Ivan’s Childhood.

(Note: The Internet Archive has English subtitles for this one as a separate text file. You can get these to work by saving them in a folder along with the film file then changing the subtitle extension from txt to srt. Video applications such as VLC autoload subtitles if they’re stored in the film folder with the correct extension and a name that matches that of the film file.)

Previously on { feuilleton }
Crank book covers
The Heat of a Thousand Suns by Pierre Kast

Adam 2, a film by Jan Lenica


Adam 2 is the first feature-length animated film by Polish animator and graphic designer Jan Lenica (1928–2001). The film was a German production, made in 1968 after Lenica had spent the past decade making shorter films in Poland, several of which look like rehearsals for this one.

Lenica called it “a sort of an intellectual comic strip”. A trip across ages and spaces, remindful of the biblical Paradise; a struggle for one’s individuality; a parody of Stalinism and totalitarianism. Critics emphasized the pessimism of its message. (More)

A pair of title cards at the beginning proclaim: “The strange, nightmarish, monstrous, utterly incredible yet true story of his life.” Lenica styled his intellectual comic strip with engraved backgrounds and decors similar to those he used in Labirynt, while the travails of “Adam 2” resemble the predicaments of the anonymous characters in both Labirynt and A. The minimal dialogue, presented in the form of intertitles, was written by Eugène Ionesco whose Rhinoceros Lenica had previously adapted. I’ve no idea what the number 44 represents in this scenario but it’s a prevalent fixture throughout.


In a year in which the posts here have been preoccupied with Surrealism I ought to note that Lenica’s animated films are often a lot more “Surrealist” than much of the live-action cinema that gets tagged with the S-word. But Lenica was an animator, and animation is the poor relation of the film world, persistently overlooked and under-represented. Lenica reinforced the Surrealist tenor of his work a few years later with two animated adaptations of Jarry plays, Ubu Roi and Ubu et la Grande Gidouille, the latter being another full-length feature. I’d love to see a restored collection of his films but I’m not expecting this any time soon.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The Surrealism archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Rhinoceros by Jan Lenica
Repulsion posters
Dom by Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica
Labirynt by Jan Lenica