Wayang 8 Kupang

A part of Olé Cuppa Art : The Project Upstairs

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Strings-film review from Time Out London

The King of Hebalon has severed his head-string – the puppet world’s equivalent of falling on your sword. The years of terror and tyranny fostered by war against the Zeriths have blighted everyone’s lives, he has concluded; he wants his son Hal to take his mantle and usher in a new reign of peace. But that’s reckoning without his wicked brother Nezo, who shreds the suicide note, blames the King’s death on the Zeriths, and mobilises his countrymen for renewed belligerence. He also has plans for his whippersnapper nephew, gone avenging beyond the palace gates, but Hal evades the trap and, travelling incognito, discovers the truth about his kingdom’s legacy… If nothing else, we can thank the Dubya junta for the revival of puppet animation: ‘Strings’ is the second such feature this year to distil the War on Terror. It’s a tad more trad than ‘Team America’ – the plot plays like a Shakespearean hand-me-down – but even more upfront and imaginative about its puppet nature. The puppets’ strings are their visible life-force; they sustain the characters, confine them, and spiritually conjoin them (the loveliest play on this is a birth scene featuring an infant, freshly carved out of wood, brought to life by wispy strings that peel away from its mother’s). The puppet modelling is well worked too, expressing character and status through different materials and levels of wear, and the drama plays out against some stunning landscapes, doused in rain or tickled by fire. The Brit-thesp voiceovers veer towards the po-faced, and the overall pitch is a little too genteel; it’s a film you’re more likely to admire than love.


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