File puptcrit/puptcrit.0606, message 342


To: puptcrit-AT-lists.driftline.org
Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2006 16:28:22 GMT
Subject: [Puptcrit] Toy Theater movie-Dante's Inferno


Last night I attended a preview of a contemporary interpretation of Dante's Inferno--"three years in the making"---and for me it was one discovery after another. A manually animated film, using the conventions of paper (puppet) theatre, but "opened up" by the camera. No attempt to hide the hand-manipulated aspects, which I found to be a plus. 

When the paper curtains descend, sometimes they close on an angle, just as if some kid was operating the show. It reminds you that this is a hands-on production.

There are duplicate forms of leading characters with changes of facial expression, with front, back and side views, even one animated mouth sequence---a jaw literally drops down in awe. In another scene, Dante through the miracle of many folds becomes a "vertical accordion".

The hands of Divine Punishment are real hands, and boy do they look BIG!

Towards the end, you meet a giant red devil, portrayed by Paul Zaloom (he says it was typecasting).

There are ocean waves imitating stage effects from melodrama, vodvil and other earlier theatre.

All the gimmicks have a purpose.

One of the many appeals of the staged"Lion King" was that the audience was a participant in using imagination---you could see many of the mechanics AND you also coud accept the characters. So here on a vastly smaller scale, the same principle is at work.

Contemporary  touches include Golden Arches in the landscape and paper automobiles,  a suspension Bridge like the one in San Francisco.

Marketing of the film has not begun yet---so you can't rush out to see it It ain't for the children or the faint of heart, and some people's favored politicians, popes,  robber barons, movie stars and other sinners are royally skewered, so it won't sit well with some political viewpoints.

Like the new  GRAND OPERA , "Grendel" which cost tons of money, there are naughty words and simulated sex, and achievement of bladder relief resulting in audience laughs. But you won't need to read a synopsis to understand this movie.

Ironically, this tale of a descent into hell was shown in a  beautiful facility, around the corner from where I lived in the early 1960s--my garage apartment is gone, replaced by a parking lot. The Lucky Market built when I lived there, is now a discount "Big Lots" store, and at night its parking lot provides shelter for many, many homeless people sleeping on the asphalt and the cement. Much of the neighborhood looks like scenes from the Inferno, now.

ALAN COOK  

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