(Figure 1) The Brothers Quay
Receiving scholarships to the Royal College of Art in London, the Brothers Quay, Stephen on Timothy Quay (Fig 1), are stop-motion animators that have had a significant, influential impact upon the world of stop-motion animation through innovative and imaginative characters and sets, crafting them with an intricate eye for detail which often present a dream-like, surreal but morbid and dark theme in their films. Most of their inspiration for these themes come from Polish animators such as Jan Lenica and Walerain Borowczyk.
The brothers specialize in creating a feeling of uncanny suspense for their narrative, using surreal soundtracks and altering the atmosphere and mood to further unsettle the audience. Their characters and sets all accomplish this, particularly withing one of their films, Street of Crocodiles.
This film is practically brimming over with an artificial, dream-like theme which the Brothers pull off almost perfectly. Suzanne Buchan of awn.com writes:
"Watching any of their animated films means entering a dream world of metaphor and visual poetry. In their own words: "Puppet films by their very nature are extremely artificial constructions, even more so depending at what level of 'enchantment' one would wish for them in relation to the subject, and, above all, the conceptual mise-en-scène applied."" (Buchan, 1996)
The works of the Brothers Quay are borderline fetishistic, seen by the topless dolls in this film posed in a suggestive manner; such images can be seen within dreams, or in this film's case, nightmares. Their work is ideally surreal, but also presents small tones of modern society and the reality of modern culture.
Street of Crocodiles presents this in a subtle way inside of a trapped world which almost looks as though time has frozen and left the surrounding set to age in a horrifying way (again, like a nightmare). Ewa Mazierska observes:
"The world invented by the Quays appears frozen in time, covered with dust and cobwebs, full of mirrors and strange machinery - a world stored in a locked room or glass cabinet that nobody has accessed for decades." (Mazierska:<No Date>)
Dancing screws come to life in a flurry of movement as they fixate themselves back into the floor and clockwork dolls leave their glass cases in a strange display on the uncanny. The audience is left wanting to know what the narrative is behind the film.
Exaggerating the narrative of culture and history in their short films and avoiding the concept of linear storytelling, the Brothers take advantage of the surrealist and dreamy theme in an attempt to evoke a feeling of fear, anticipation or empathy within the viewer. An article on eNote.com states:
"...the Quays eschew linear storytelling for the evocation of intense psychological states by means of oneiric and obliquely sinister images accompanied by provocative sounds and music." (<No Name>:<No Date>)
Mazierska, Ewa (No Date) http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/498256/ (Accessed 25/03/12)
<No Name> (No Date) http://www.enotes.com/brothers-quay-criticism/brothers-quay (Accessed 25/03/12)
Buchan, Suzanne (1996) http://www.awn.com/mag/issue1.3/articles/buchan1.3.html (Accessed 25/03/12)
Fig 1: The Brothers Quay (2011) http://hiddenbiscuit.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/brothers-quay.html (Accessed 25/03/12)