Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Animator and Animation Reviews... Brothers Quay...

The extraordinary Brothers Quay are two of the world's most original filmmakers. Stephen and Timothy Quay, identical twins born in Pennsylvania in 1947, studied illustration in Philadelphia before moving to London, making their unique and innovative films. Influenced by a tradition of Eastern European animation, the Quays display a passion for detail, a breathtaking command of colour and texture, and an uncanny use of focus and camera movement that make their films unique and instantly recognisable. They are masters of miniaturisation and on their tiny sets have created an unforgettable world, suggestive of a landscape of long-repressed childhood dreams.

Similar to Jan Svankmajer; when i heard the name Brothers Quay, i thought i had recognised it, but i wasn't too sure why. After watching 'Street of Crocodiles' and 'The Comb' by them, i realised that it was an animation with a strange clown-like pupper of theirs, that i had seen. It took me a little while to find it but i have found it and i'm still unsure of it's actual name but i believe it's called 'The Parabol of Gilgamesh.' It is clear to see the similarities in the style of their animations, hence i was able to recognise the Gilgamesh animation as a piece by the Brothers Quay. Their narratives are often overlooked because of the beuty in their environments and textures, and they have become well-renouned for the little details in their animations.

'Street of Crocodiles' was a 21-minute stop-motion animation produced by the Quay Brothers and released in 1986. It was astonishing to see how fine the details were in this animation and this was visually pleasing to the audience. However, if i'm honest, the beauty of the animation and its wonderful score, were overpowered by my struggle to find or understand the narrative to the story. As an audience we have all established the importance of a strong or clear narrative in films and animations, so when i am watching an animation like this, i struggle to watch it because i can't understand the narrative. Maybe this is partly due to its eerie design and the psychologocial mood of the animation, but at times i found it frustrating to watch, despite the beauty of the overall piece.

The other animation that we watched by Brothers Quay was 'The Comb'. Again the visual aesthetics and details were beautiful and you can see this from the image above. The musical score was eerie and i would now find it fairly to recognise a piece my Brothers Quay because their style is so easily recognisable. I love their strange and unique characters and environments. However, i was again frsutrated by the narrative because i spent most of the animation trying to work out what was going on instead of being able to just watch the animation. Despite this, i can't help but admire the unique work of animators like Brothers Quay and Jan Svankmajer, and i would like to try some experimental pieces of animation similar to their styles at some point.

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