Unmistaken Hands: Ex Voto F.H., a film by the Brothers Quay


More from the Quays, and one of their most recent animated films. Unmistaken Hands: Ex Voto F.H. is a 25-minute piece made in 2013 for a commission from the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University. The film is subtitled Fragments and Motifs from the Writings of Felisberto Hernández, the “F.H.” of the title. Hernández was a Uruguayan writer whose fabulist fiction has been praised by Italo Calvino and Gabriel García Márquez, and as with the Quays’ films based on the work of Bruno Schulz and Robert Walser it probably helps to be acquainted with the source. In this case I’m not, although reading a description of Hernández’s Piano Stories—the only (?) collection in English—I ought to remedy that.


The content may be South American but the Hernández’s fictional world is explored using the same accumulation of hints and allusions as in the films based on the work of European writers. The Quays’ recent shorts have favoured HD video and anamorphic distortion, and that’s the technique adopted here. I can’t fault their animation or their mise-en-scène but I keep hoping they might find a way to use video that has more of the grain and texture of their earlier films. I’m also hoping we might see these recent works gathered together in a disc collection in the near future. Unmistaken Hands: Ex Voto F.H. is a recent arrival at YouTube, and may not be there for long so watch it while you can.

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The Quay Brothers archive