I am featuring two puppet animations today and tomorrow, each going behind the scenes to reveal the strings, so to speak. Made in 2002, La femme papillon, from the Belgian director Virginie Bourdin, is an artfully crafted movie filmed in high resolution with various virtual 3D special effects added later. It tells the story of a marionette observing a beautiful female butterfly dancer perform on stage, releasing smaller moths and butterflies to the sound of warm applause from the puppet audience. The observer is so taken with the performance and her beauty that he frees himself from his controlling strings and follows the performer backstage where he attempts to free the woman butterfly. To the creaking sound of pulleys and strings and audience reaction the backstage paraphernalia has a menacing quality to it. From the auditorium the velvet and light give a brilliance not found backstage. In fact the entire rig, properties, flats and backdrops, trolleys and fly towers, have an air of menace about them, none more so than the still sentient collapsed puppets, many of them huge. One flies towards the intruder who is intent on reaching the wired scissors offering some hope of release. The role of the female is curiously ambivalent: is she retreating from or, through her release of more butterflies, assisting her rescuer? The conclusion gives pause for thought as strings are cut and a release of sorts attained but, as is the nature of illusion in the theatre, and life I guess, a prize is not always worth the winning. The lighting for an outstanding set is special, exuding depth and mystery. Venturing backstage is always exciting but a far cry from the dreams and illusions proffered to an audience. I am sure there is a deep significance in the movie, a fable of control and freedom, of reality and illusion. The stills are in high resolution and worth a click and the joint Belgian/French movie is featured on No Fat Clips where a downloadable version is available.