Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Another jewel of wisdom from Larry DeHaan

Larry is one of the readers who occasionally sends along interesting tidbits that I invariably find fascinating. Here's an email he sent concerning the last blog entry, my study of the scene from Street of Crocodiles:


I've been reading the blog on the Quays, and as I probably have not viewed them as many times as the other contributors to the blog, I don't know if my opinion would carry any weight. However I do know that the brothers are steeped not only in literary tradition, but also extensively in film tradition. this is very apparrent in their collective knowledge of Expressionist films and technique ( lighting, shadows and camera angles) the stimming (soul) of those films. To properly understand the art of stop-motion-animation film-making one needs to study the art of silent cinema.
The link below is to the most important book now in print covering the German Expessionist period and I have found this to be my bible, when it comes to film reference. If you don't already have it , this is an essensial book for anyone who is an animator, silent film buff or just loves the techniques that were applied. I have read this book cover to cover at least six times and it is easy to follow despite what the reviewer here states, Also it's loaded with great pics.

all the best ,

The Haunted Screen

Sounds too good to pass up! I've already ordered my copy. Thanks again Larry!


mefull said...

Cabinet of Dr Caligari is one of my fav's as far as the old silent films goes. Ever since that old thread on SMA when I first heard about it. It is surprising how many people have been influenced by that and the other German expressionist films.

This book looks great, if I didn't already have over 30 unread books on my bookshelf now I would order it too. It's definitely on my list once I get caught up.

Thanks for another great find. Thanks Mike and thanks Larry!

Darkmatters said...

Yeah, somehow I suspect this one is going to be extremely influential on my developing philosophy of filmmaking.

Darkmatters said...

More from Larry:

"One more observational comment concerning the music in the Quays films. Remember the interview, where the brothers likened music to blood! If it is blood which animates us, music to the Quays, would indicate to me that they conceive the music conjuctively with the filmic expression rather than an addendum to it, as is the case with the Tool videos, and most other MTV type music videos. On the other hand we know that the brothers have also made music videos ( Peter Gabriel,etc.) so they may be familier with both processes ? I think, perhaps that they create both simaltaneously and cannot, or do not conceive of them as seperate entities. this understanding I believe is what distinguishes them from the rest of the pack. "

Darkmatters said...

Very good point!

There are some fundamental differences... of course (generally speaking) music videos are like advertising vehicles for popular songs, or songs being hyped by the producers to be popular. There's usually a lot of lip syncing and shots of the band playing, which is very minimal in the Tool videos (maybe nonexistant in Prison Sex?). The Tool videos of course all stand out from the general crowd of music videos, they're obviously lovingly made by artists who are serious about doing some good work, like the Nine Inch Nails videos and a few of the other greats. And (at least to me) Tool's music is really good, though definitely a product of its time. They didn't begin as a popular band - I believe it was the sober video that put them on the map and then they became hugely famous and popular, spawning knock-offs and sound-alikes.

But as good as Tool's music was, and as well made as the videos were, somehow they just don't measure up to the level of most quay films (films, not music videos). And it seems to me it's because of the different nature of the music itself.... where as Tool was definitely making heavy metal music (popular genre) marketed toward contemporary teen culture, Jankowski and Stockhausen et al are much more 'arty' and closer to the tradition of modern classical (if there is such a thing). Much more evocative and haunting, lending itself more to a poignant film.

Well, I think all I've managed to do is clumsily repeat what Larry already said much more succinctly!