I have set myself a difficult task today in describing an abstract work of art that communicates on various levels. Made in 1992, La Course à l’abîme (The Ride to the Abyss) by the Swiss artist and animator, Georges Schwizgebel, moves at an often frantic pace to the music of Hector Berloiz, La Damnation de Faust, performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The music credits are vital because the action is synchronised to it. It features two galloping horse riders who travel the land, realised in sweeping vistas of mountains, roads and villages, or revealing snapshots: lovers in boat, woman combing hair, dogs fighting. Interwoven with these are trains, dancers, rather ominous crows in the sky, cherubs in the clouds; not to mention the orchestra and choir itself, and always the recurring horse riders who drive the action of the film. Faust sold his soul and this helps explain the morphing of the dancers into skeletons; presumably such vibrant life has a cost to it. There's more to the movie of course. The hand of the artist is to be seen daubing paint onto the already chunky images and blocks of colour in this very canvas-like stage. We are made very aware of the controlling vision of the artist or animator here - surely Georges is also saying something about the art of animation itself, playing god with movement may just have its price! The culmination of the movie is a theatrical and spectacular series of vignettes, reworked scenes from the movie, that spread to form a vast single canvas of action. A source for video rentals that has Georges’ works available here in the UK at least is Close-Up Videos. In the meantime, it's best to forget tiresome scrabbling for meaning and revel in glorious, stirring music and impressionistic artistry.
(Or read my review of A Journey Across Grandmother by Meghana Bisineer for the flourishing Short of the Week.)