Monday, 30 November 2009

Alexander Alexeieff and Claire Parker "Le Nez" (The Nose) (1963)

Le Nez (The Nose) directed by husband and wife team Alexander Alexeieff and Claire Parker is a film cited as a brilliant example of the pinscreen technique, a shadow animation in effect whereby Alexander works on the positive side of a large black canvas full of pins and Claire on the negative side; the more the flat headed pins are pushed in the lighter is the effect, creating the look of mezzotint with its textured shades of grey. I can scarcely conceive of a more labour intensive form of animation particularly given that pins numbered in their hundreds of thousands are used, albeit the pair used a variety of instruments to more quickly achieve different effects. The surreal tale itself is from the 19th century Russian writer, Nikolai Gogol, commencing with a barber discovering a nose in a freshly baked loaf of bread. The nose promptly takes a life of its own, much to the chagrin of the young man who is lost and bereft without it. The man hides the empty space with a hat and pleads for the nose to return. As Nose is dressed rather more elegantly that its erstwhile owner, the plea is rejected. Reference to the nose as a metaphor for losing another more masculine part of the anatomy is obvious given the character's loss of confidence around the ladies. I personally am not persuaded by the charms of the accompanying musical soundtrack with its mix of traditional Chinese and rather discordant percussion. It takes the short even more into the territory of art film whereas some of the images of the nose in costume or the man frantically attempting to affix a constantly falling nose are high comedy. The directors in fact considered their work as high art and would not be concerned with my more base requirements. (I much prefer the couple's earlier A Night on Bald Mountain with its lovely music by Moussorgsky.) There are few animators around who use pinscreen, Jacques Drouin being a notable exception, his Mindscape a beautiful animation.

1 comment:

socialspidvid said...

Oh wow that is so artistic and interesting!