The surreal visions of the Brothers Quay, identical-twin animators from Minnesota who have since made London their home, are an offbeat mix of clockwork mechanics, wire, thread, and 19th-century curios, all set to life in ... more »a series of beautiful but elusive set pieces. Directed in a highly stylized manner, with a shallow plane of focus that intentionally keeps certain objects blurred and a camera that moves with conspicuous mechanical precision, their works have a dreamlike quality about them. This is directly alluded to in the subtitle of one of their most handsome films, "The Comb (From the Museum of Sleep)," where scenes of a latticework of ladders shooting through an angular construction are intercut with shots of a sleeping woman. "Street of Crocodiles," their most famous short work, references turn-of-the-century cinema as a man peers through a Kinetoscope to watch the nightmare-tinged fantasy of a figure overwhelmed by mysterious forces on the deserted streets of a city after dark. These are the longest and most accomplished short films in The Brothers Quay Collection, a compendium of ten works from 1984 to 1993, but the tape contains other spellbinding works, from the early "The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer," a tribute to the great Czech animator and the Quay's spiritual godfather, to the inventive art history documentary "De Artificiali Perspectiva, or Anamorphosis," to the four short works in the "Stille Nacht" series. These films, along with "The Epic of Gilgamesh" and "Rehearsals For Extinct Anatomies," showcase a vision of quivering objects and surreal narratives in a shadowy, self-contained dream world. --Sean Axmaker« less
B. Erickson | Overland Park, KS United States | 06/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A few years back I saw "Institute Benjamenta," the Quay Brothers' full-length live-action film, at some festival. I'd never heard of them before, but they blew me away like they blow everybody away. The B&W was just lovely. I left the theatre like Moses left Horeb. Of course, the Quays are better known for their stop-motion shorts, and when I mentioned "Benjamenta" to a friend, he loaned me a tape with "Street of Crocodiles" and a few others. All the Tool and Chemical Bros and NIN videos aside, when I watched "Crocodiles" for the first time, I realized I had hit bedrock. The videos are just cheap and tawdry imitations. Mark Romanek chips on this vibe but he's just aping Quay. Nor can you blame him. Once you've watched a band of empty-headed, hollow-eyed Victorian dolls perform bizarre experiments with raw meat and insects to a stabbing violin score, you walk away a changed featherless biped. Well I condidered myself a fan, but I hadn't seen the half of the films on this DVD before I bought it. I had like a month of Quay-Samadhi. My personal favourites are the lovely B&W "Stille Nachts." "Dramolet" examines the secret life of lead filings (animated in stop-motion!) and magnets, presided over by an incredibly weathered and threadbare doll-puppet with cracked face and glistening black eyes. Later "Stille Nachts" were videos for His Name Is Alive (never heard of them before this either), including "Are We Still Married" and "Can't Go Wrong Without You," which feature the comedy duo of a veiled doll in striped socks that rocks back and forth ominously on its heels, and a decaying toy rabbit orbited by kinetic ping-pong balls. Also in this series is "Tales From the Vienna Woods," which displays much of the symbolic imagery later used in "Benjamenta:" antlers and hooves and plaques in German, etc. These films "aren't for everybody;" there I said it. But neither is "You've Got Mail." If you're interested in them at all, if you're reading this page but you actually haven't seen the films but they sound like your thing - if you're the ultimate sitting duck consumer, in other words - all I can say in this case is CONSUME. I doubt you'll regret it. And if you do, well, you have no taste anyway, so what do I care. By the way, it doesn't necessarily follow that if you love one film, you'll love em all, or "" if you hate. I have to be in a very rare mood to watch "Crocodiles" again (now that I've seen the others), but "The Comb" and "Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies" endlessly facinate me. Each piece has its own atomsphere."
The Dark Alley of Animation
Jason Vance | Hollywood, CA | 09/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This collection of ten short films is both revolutionary and revolting. The brothers are actual identical twins, born in Pennsylvania, now living in seclusion in London, who have created a warped vision all their own. Using jerky stop-motion animation and a variety of inanimate household items, this celluloid world is full of darkness and nightmares. Ranging in length from one minute to 21-minutes, it's best to watch this tape in segments; otherwise, your brain will become numb trying desperately to make some type of sense out of the twisted visuals playing out before you. If you have ever seen the music videos for Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" or Marilyn Manson's "Tourniquet," you have already tasted the influence of the brothers. Particularly recommended for anyone with a phobia of porcelain baby dolls -- face your fears!!"
Rehearsals For Extinct Anatomies
livesidog | Lancaster, PA USA | 08/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not exactly sure how to describe the Brothers Quay work other than it's one of those things that transcends its genre and evokes real and powerful emotions in the viewer. These short films, all of which are masterpieces of stop-motion animation, are all very dreamlike and abstract, but the fact that you may not understand what's going on all the time doesn't really matter. What's important here isn't the plot or meaning, but the aesthetic and style, much like other (narrative and non-narrative) forms of art. Really, if I had to chose one word to describe the work of the Brothers Quay it would be "beautiful".My only complaint with this DVD is that the menus and indexing aren't quite set up right, so when one short ends, you have to manually hit the "menu" button on your remote to go back or it'll keep playing through to the next short. Regardless, these shorts are definitely worth having on DVD because of the superior picture quality and the convenience of being able to skip to the individual shorts (not to mention the fact that the DVD includes a few extras, like an interview with the Quays)."
Retrospective of Innovative Animated Short Films
scottmusicdvd | Phoenix, AZ United States | 06/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Brothers Quay have been producing surreal short stop-motion animated films and videos since 1979. This dvd features 11 different shorts, often grotesque but always stunningly beautiful animation in each. The two shorts I am most familiar with, "Are We Still Married" (1992) and "Can't Go Wrong Without You" (1993) were music videos produced for 4AD Records for the band His Name Is Alive. Both feature similar character animation to several of the Tool videos of the mid-nineties, such as "Prison Sex". Yet I think the Brothers Quay have a more subtle and complex style. Another stylistic influence on BQ is Czech animator Jan Svankmajer, who produced a macabre version of Alice in Wonderland called "Alice" using fish skeletons and animal skulls as a medium. Indeed, the link is more than a coincidence -- one short, titled "the Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer" (1984) pays hommage to Jan.Any fan of animation should check out these artists. Even if you are not a fan of 'experimental' or non-narrative film, you will find much to enjoy and discuss about their work in this collection."
A fantastical, nightmarish ride
"Big Band" John | NC United States | 01/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I first saw the animation of the Brothers Quay, I was totally entranced. Their stop-motion puppet style is so bizzare and unique, it pulls you in.First, they use "antique dolls" for their characters. everything has an old and used feel. Second, is the use of "common items". This really brings it to another level. Nothing is more artistic than a ballet of wood screws, an old pocket watch, and some very creative uses for red meat (you just have to watch it). It can be disturbing at times, but with their sense of direction and cinematography you will almost always find something new with each viewing.I can see some people who are into mainstream things absolutely hating their work. It is bizzare to say the least. But there is a unique charm that these brothers have created in their dark world.On this DVD, to me the main features are "Nocturna Artificiala", their first feature (a "bonus" on the DVD), "Street of Crocidiles" (the one that I found the easiest to follow, yet one of the more bizzare), and "The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer" (tribute to the Chech animator). Most of the other films are shorts under 5 minutes, but it is still a great DVD to own if you like the art of animation."