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Director: Nicole van Goethem
Release Date: 1985
Rating:
Review:

Een Griekse tragedie © Nicole van Goethem‘A Greek Tragedy’ won an Academy Award and the first prize at the Annecy Inernational Film Festival. I remain puzzled why.

‘A Greek Tragedy’ was Van Goethem’s first own film. It’s a classic gag cartoon featuring three living, scarcely clad female caryatids supporting an old ruin. When the ruin crumbles, and they’re finally free, we watch them dancing into the distance.

The designs are trite, the synthesizer music is ugly, the humor is poor, and the story forgettable. If this short has a hidden, perhaps feminist message, it’s lost on me. And then to imagine, that one of the short’s competitors for the Oscars was ‘Luxo jr.’, a far more convincing and rewarding film in every respect!

Watch ‘Een Griekse tragedie’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Een Griekse tragedie’ is available on the DVD Box Set ‘Annecy – Le coffret du 50e Anniversaire’

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Director: Rémi Vandenitte
Release Date: June 8, 2013
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Betty's Blues © Rémi Vandenitte‘Betty’s Blues’ is Vandenitte’s ode to the country blues, and its origins in the South of the United States.

The film is a frame story, with two distinct styles. The framing story is told in stop-motion. We watch a young black blues singer perform in a small and empty bar near a metro line (we hear the cars rattling by from time to time). The singer tells his audience the story of Betty’s Blues. Enter the drawn animation.

The story itself is about a blues singer who loses his girl to the K.K.K. and becomes blind himself. In return for his blindness he receives the gift to make everybody dance to his guitar playing. When he meets the K.K.K. again, his revenge is sweet. The film ends with the audience shocked with horror by this rather violent story.

Both Vandenitte’s stop-motion and 2D animation are of a high quality. His stop-motion puppets have a delightfully gritty texture, and Vandenitte’s animation of guitar playing is wonderfully convincing. In the 2D sequences Vandenitte makes use of a technique simulating wood carving, combined with bold and evocative coloring, sometimes mimicking the color palette of that great cinematic ode to the musical South, ‘O Brother Where Art Thou’. The result is a gorgeous film, if a little shallow in the end.

Watch the teaser for ‘Betty’s Blues’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Raoul Servais
Release Date:
1968
Rating★★★★★
Review:

Sirene © Raoul ServaisIn a sinister harbor, where cranes behave like giant dinosaurs and where pterodactyli fly a young flute player brings a mermaid to life. Unfortunately, the mermaid is captured by one of the cranes and dropped to death.

‘Sirene’ is a beautiful, surrealistic film with its own creepy and somber atmosphere. Luckily, there’s also space for some dark humor when the authorities arrest an innocent fisherman and when a zoo and a hospital argue about the mermaid’s body.  ‘Sirene’ definitely among Servais’s best films, arguably only equaled by ‘To Speak or not to Speak (1970) and ‘Harpya‘.

Watch ‘Sirene’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Raoul Servais
Release Date: 1979
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

Harpya © Raoul ServaisA man rescues a harpy from a man who strangles her. He takes her home, but with disastrous results, because he soon discovers that the harpy eats all his food…

‘Harpya’ is a fantastic surreal film, which makes great use of a mixture of animation, live action and pixillation to create a totally unique atmosphere. The film is both funny and uncanny, and its story is Servais’s best since ‘Sirene’ (1968).

With ‘Harpya’ Raoul Servais made his most enduring work. It’s his all-time masterpiece, and a central film in his oeuvre, defining his mature style.

Watch ‘Harpya’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Raoul Servais
Release Date: 1973
Rating: ★★★
Review:

Pegasus © Raoul Servais‘Pegasus’ tells about a lonely blacksmith who lives in the countryside.

The blacksmith has a love for horses, but unfortunately his surroundings are totally devoid of them. So he builds a horse head out of metal to worship. Unfortunately, the horse head appears to have an ability to grow and reproduce, surrounding his house like a forest.

‘Pegasus’ is a beautiful and surreal film. Unfortunately, it ends quite abruptly, leaving behind a sense that not everything has been said, yet.

Watch ‘Pegasus’ yourself and tell me what you think:

Director: Raoul Servais
Release Date: 1971
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Operation X-70 © Raoul ServaisOperation X-70 is a half silly, half scary short by Belgian film maker Raoul Servais.

It tells about a poisonous gas, which turns people into spiritual beings. The gas is advertised as a ‘clean weapon’, because it doesn’t kill people. When the gas is accidentally bombed on the Benelux (Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg), it turns people into angels.

The film impresses with its weird idea, its dark and gloomy atmosphere, and its anti-war message. However, like Raoul Servais’s earlier film ‘Goldframe’ (1968), the film suffers from an all too present dialogue. In the end the short’s images are more lasting than the film itself is.

Watch ‘Operation X-70’ yourself and tell me what you think:

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