|Genre:||Science Fiction & Fantasy|
Aside from the obvious, there is another reason I love shopping for DVDs in dark little corners of the metropolis rather than in the cool comfort of the record bars inside the malls. Every now and then you'll run into a little known gem of a film that hasn't gotten any hype and isn't likely to make any of the bestsellers lists. You'll look over the cover, likely say something along the lines of, "hmm... this looks interesting..." and fork over the 60-70 bucks without the apprehension you might suffer from if you were buying an original.
That's exactly what happened when I picked up Anders Rønnow Klarlund's "Strings". I'd never heard of the film, (though it was released back in 2005 apparently) but it was one of those packages that just caught my attention and begged me to pick it up. According to the card, this is the"world's first fully integrated puppet feature film". In layman's terms, that means the principles are all marionettes; the same creepy puppets they used to have in shows like Thunderbirds. Karlund was said to have wanted to come up with a commentary on 9/11 and the US views on terrorism. What we got was an amazing deep fantasy film that reminds me of nothing less than Henson's The Dark Crystal.
Klarlund and his team of puppeteers, designers, and voice actors have come up with a world so rich in detail that it's rife with it's own mythology and feels as real as anything life-sized. It's a world where even a king can die if his headstring is cut. A world where puppets are made, not born, carved of wood by their fathers' hand, and connected to heaven by parts of their mother's lifelines. A world of castes, where slaves are kept to supply the royals with spare parts.
The expert handling of the marrionettes lends the characters an eerie reflection of life, while the excellent voice work by the English cast (including Children of Dune's James McAvoy and Catherine McCormack) gives them a humanity you begin to believe in as the film goes on. By the end, you may actually find yourself rooting for Hal Kara and loathing Nezo and Ghrak as if you were a loyal subject of the dead Kharo yourself.
As I watched Strings, I felt it would have been an amazing live show, staged with live actors playing living puppets. It would have been an amazing thing to watch this classic story play out with life size strings coming from the top of actors heads leading to heaven. I'd gladly pay for a ticket to a play like that.