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Directors: Paul Driessen & Kaj Driessen
Release Date: 2008
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

The 7 Brothers © Paul DriessenWith ‘The 7 Brothers’ Dutch director Paul Driessen elaborates on the fairy tale ideas he had explored in ‘3 Misses’ (1988).

‘The 7 Brothers’ tells the tale of no less than seven old writers, and their stories, all Driessen’s own idiosyncratic variations on classic fairy tales, featuring a mixture of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, The Wolf and the Seven Young Goats, Snow White, Puss in Boots and Hansel and Gretel. There are seven short gags, all rather cruel takes on the familiar tales.

The film is unique within Driessen’s oeuvre, for its use of live action: the seven gag segments are bridged by shots of the old men wandering on a cobbled street at night. These surreal live action images were directed by his son, Kaj Driessen. The result is a beautiful and funny, if rather unassuming film.

Watch ‘The 7 Brothers’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘The 7 Brothers’ is available on the DVD ‘Animazing! – Mindblowing Animation Films Supportes by the Netherlands Film Fund 1998-2008’

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Director: Paul Driessen
Release Date: 1988
Rating: ★★★★★ ♕
Review:

De schrijver en de dood © Paul DriessenIn an old castle a medieval writer is writing such lively stories, it  attracts Death’s attention.

The writer tells a story about a peddler and his son, who has a touch of magic. All goes well, until Death comes in, and messes with the writer’s stories to ruin them and fill them with death and misery. Nevertheless, he fails to kill the son, who’s the writer’s main protagonist. With his magical powers the young boy escapes certain death several times. However, when in the end, the writer turns out to be same man as the little boy in his stories, Death has the last laugh.

‘De schrijver en de dood’ is one of Paul Driessen’s darkest and gloomiest films. His typical black humor is not absent, and is best visible in the little snapshots, which disrupt the story’s continuity for small morbid gags. But more than in any other of his films death is more disturbing than funny, and the sadness and misery are heartfelt. At the same time, it’s also one of Driessen’s most poetical films. The images are rich and full of fantasy, and in his own way Driessen creates a convincing medieval world to marvel at.

Watch ‘De schrijver en de dood’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘De schrijver en de dood’ is available on the DVD ‘The Dutch Films of Paul Driessen’

Director: Paul Driessen
Release Date: 1985
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Spiegeleiland © Paul Driessen‘Spiegeleiland’ is a short and stylized animation film, which uses one scene and one perspective only.

We watch a castaway on an island and his reflection. The castaway is visited by a female companion and rescued by a ship. Or is he? The reflection tells another tale…

This simple story is told without dialogue and with the greatest economy. Like ‘Ei om zeep’ (The Killing of an Egg’) and ‘Het treinhuisje’ (Home on the Rails) we watch a single tableau. In ‘Spiegeleiland’ Driessen takes this format even further, limiting his action to a circle with only a tiny island within.

The result is without doubt one of Driessen’s strongest and most poetic films. Driessen would reuse this method of parallel depiction of reality and fantasy to a great effect in the tragic ‘The Boy Who Saw the Iceberg’ from 2000.

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

‘Spiegeleiland’ is available on the DVD ‘The Dutch Films of Paul Driessen’

Director: Paul Driessen
Release Date: 1982
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Oh What A Knight © Paul Driessen‘Oh What a Knight’ is a short and funny gag film in which a knight rescues a princess from a dragon, a cyclope, a snake and a villain, only to watch her fall in love with his empty shiny armor.

Driessen’s unique animation style is most present in this cartoon. For example, the knight has an odd way of falling to pieces and reassembling himself. ‘Oh What a Knight’ is one of Driessen’s funniest films. In fact it would not be surpassed until his ‘3 Misses’ from 1998.

Watch ‘Oh What a Knight’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Oh What a Knight’ is avaiable on the DVD ‘The Dutch Films of Paul Driessen’

Director: Paul Driessen
Release Date: 1981
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

Het treinhuisje (Home on the Rails) © Paul Driessen‘Het treinhuisje’ is one of Paul Driessen’s most beautiful films.

This short builds on the surreal concept of a home built right on a railway track. The daily life of the couple living in the house is dominated by a train passing right through their home at certain times.

With simple and direct storytelling Driessen sets the drama, in which this very train ruins the life of the couple. All the time we stick inside the couple’s home. Only when the man tells of his misfortunes, we shortly cut to the outside world. Ironically, it’s the railway itself that ruins the couple’s life.

The story is told without dialogue, and supported by beautiful country music. The emotions of the couple are depicted well, and are very subtle. However, the film also shows Driessen’s typical animation style at its most radical: the film’s surrealism is enhanced by strange disappearances of the characters when they cross the room and by a ghostly avant-image of the train before it really enters the house.

The film also shares the trademark morbid humor with other Driessen films, especially in the cuckoo clock and in the persistent fly bugging the characters throughout the picture. Nevertheless, the melancholy atmosphere dominates, and its the film’s drama that impresses the viewer time and time again.

Watch ‘Het treinhuisje’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Het treinhuisje’ is available on the DVD ‘The Dutch Films of Paul Driessen’

Director: Paul Driessen
Release Date: 1980
Rating: ★★★★
Review:

Ter land, ter zee en in de lucht © Paul DriessenIn this film Paul Driessen experiments with the split screen for the first time.

Here we see three narrow frames: the left frame (Land) depicting a sleeping man, the middle one (Air) a bird, and the right one (Sea) a couple on a boat on the ocean. The story involves several themes explored in all three frames, which at times interact but only come together in the end

Like many of Paul Driessen’s shorts ‘Te land ter zee en in de lucht’ involves morbid humor, including a running gag of an ark sinking several times. The film uses no dialogue and no music, only sound effects with very effective results.

Driessen would take the split screen technique to the max in ‘The End of the World in Four Seasons’ (1995), but the genius of ‘Te land, ter zee en in de lucht’ would only be topped by his melancholy film ‘The Boy Who Saw the Iceberg’ from 2000.

Watch ‘Te land, ter zee en in de lucht’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘Te land, ter zee en in de lucht’ is available on the DVD ‘The Dutch Films of Paul Driessen’

Director: Paul Driessen
Release Date: 1977
Rating: ★★★★½
Review:

Ei om zeep © Paul DriessenA man is going to eat an egg, when he suddenly hears a voice from within. He destroys the egg, killing the unseen victim. However his cruel behavior is soon punished in an echo of events.

‘The Killing of an Egg’ is a short cartoon with a very limited setting. The whole action takes place within a single square frame and its perspective is changed only once. In this claustrophobic surrounding the story unfolds its own inner logic. In this limited time-space Paul Driessen shows his mastery of story telling.

This classic cartoon is a prime example of Paul Driessen’s mature style. It’s the first film in which he plays with framing the action (soon followed by split screens, eventually leading to the extreme example of ‘The End of the World in Four Seasons’ from 1995). The film shows Driessen’s typical way of telling a short story based on a simple, yet clever idea which makes the cartoon tick like an inevitable fate. Later examples of this style are ‘Home on the Rails‘ (1981) and ‘Sunny Side Up‘ (1985). And finally, this film is typical of Driessen’s dark humor, which always has a disturbing edge to it. We may feel as powerful as this man, but we, too, will be crushed in the end…

Watch ‘Ei om zeep’ yourself and tell me what you think:

 

‘Ei om zeep’ is available on the DVD ‘The Dutch Films of Paul Driessen’

Director: Paul Driessen
Release Date: 1977
Rating: ★★★
Review:

David © Paul Driessen

After working in Canada for the NFB for five years, Driessen experienced a major personal setback, when his marriage failed, and his ex left for The Netherlands with their two children. Driessen soon missed his son and daughter and returned to his native country himself.

In The Netherlands he rented a small attic in The Hague to work and live in. Here he made ‘David’, which he dedicated to his children Anouk and Kaj.

David is the world’s tiniest cartoon star. He’s so small, even the little gnomes can’t see him. During most of the cartoon his presence is only known by his footsteps and his voice. In fact, David is probably the first cartoon star to remain invisible throughout the picture. Nevertheless, Driessen manages to keep the film entertaining, even though most of the time we look at an empty screen.

This film is clearly meant for children and unfortunately, it is hampered by its slowness and large amount of dialogue of David himself (in the Dutch version provided by actor Aart Staartjes). Much of the fun is in David trying to make himself known. Despite its joyful spirit, the film contains a morbid ending, when David, having survived a giant and a predatory bird, is eventually squashed by an unknowing pedestrian…

‘David’ was Driessen’s sixth film, and his idiosyncratic style has matured immensely since his first film, ‘The Story of Little John Bailey‘ (1970). With his next film ‘Killing of an Egg‘ he would animate his first masterpiece.

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

‘David’ is available on the DVD  ‘The Dutch Films of Paul Driessen’

Director: Paul Driessen
Release Date: 1970
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Het verhaal van kleine Yoghurt © Paul DriessenPaul Driessen’s very first film is a charming little short for children.

Made largely in Spain with help of small subsidy from the Dutch Ministry of Culture, the film tells about a small boy who accidentally sets a forest on fire, but repays his deed by extinguishing another one with help of an elephant with two trunks.

The simple story is hampered by the childish voice over (the English version is much more enjoyable than the original in that respect), and the film certainly doesn’t belong to Driessen’s best works, but its imaginative colors and weird perspectives are still thrilling. It already shows the film maker’s very distinctive animation style, which he would expand and improve over the years, creating such masterpieces as ‘On Land, at Sea and in the Air‘ (1980) and ‘The Writer‘ (1988).

Watch ‘Het verhaal van Kleine Yoghurt’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNzQ1MTE2NTI=.html

‘Het verhaal van Kleine Yoghurt’ is available on the DVD ‘The Dutch Films of Paul Driessen’

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