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The Quay Brothers - The Short Films 1979-2003 (Two Discs) [DVD]

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Directors: Quay Brothers
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 20 Nov. 2006
  • Run Time: 255 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000I0QSPS
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,406 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

QUAY BROTHERS The Short Films 1979-2003 (DVD)

Since the late 1970s, the identical twin Quay Brothers have made a unique contribution to animation in general and the puppet film in particular. Filtering arcane visual, literary, musical, cinematic and philosophical influences through their own utterly distinctive sensibility, each Quay film rivets the attention through hypnotic control of décor, music and movement, evoking half-remembered dreams and long-suppressed childhood memories, fascinating and deeply unsettling in turn.

This two-disc set contains thirteen of their classic short films in brand new restored and remastered editions, plus a collection of 'footnotes' including interviews, idents, alternative versions, unreleased pilot projects and more. The Quays were extensively involved with the preparation of these DVDs, personally supervising the transfers and menu designs, recording commentaries on selected titles, and contributing an illustrated introduction.

Disc 1 - Films

  • The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer (1984)
  • This Unnameable Little Broom (1985)
  • Street of Crocodiles (1986)
  • Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies (1987)
  • Stille Nacht I-IV (1988-93)
  • The Comb (1990)
  • Anamorphosis (1991)
  • In Absentia (2000)
  • The Phantom Museum (2003)

Disc 2 Footnotes

  • Nocturna Artificialia (1979)
  • The Calligrapher (1991)
  • The Summit (1995)
  • The Falls (Excerpt) (1980)
  • and more

Plus a fully illustrated booklet

The Comb, The Phantom Museum, Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies and In Absenta are presented in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen. The last two titles are also presented in alternative 2.35:1 Anamorphic Scope versions

UK | 1979 - 2003 | 134 minutes + 180 minutes extra material | Ratio 1.33:1 | Cert 12

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Format: DVD
About twenty years ago, I was captivated by a season of Quay Brothers films broadcast on Channel 4. My favourite of all was called "Intimate Excursions", where the Quays created extraordinary visuals to accompany excerpts from pretty much all of Leos Janacek's major works. I still have it on VHS, taped from the telly, and as a marriage of animation and classical music, it sure beats the hell out of "Fantasia"! Anyway, when this BFI release was announced I was particularly keen to see a pristine digital transfer of this film, but....it isn't included! I contacted the BFI, and their quick response was as follows:

"Unfortunately some titles have been impossible to put onto the DVD for a number of reasons. The reason for Intimate Excursions is that although the music is out of copyright, the recordings aren't. They were originally sourced from the Czech Supraphon label, which was state-owned until the Velvet Revolution (so relatively easy to clear for broadcast in the 1980s), but since then the catalogue has passed into private hands."

A great shame, but clearly the BFI are powerless. It's not a reason to not buy this excellent set, but I am only going to give it four stars because it isn't quite as comprehensive as its publicity would have you believe. Maybe one day we'll have a full retrospective of these great animators on DVD.
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I heard it said that when the Alaska Earthquake occurred the earth actually moved ever so slightly on its axis. Sounds a little over-dramatic but my viewing of the short films of the Quay Brothers was somewhat analogous in its effect on my perception of the visual arts.

I came into this a virgin. I'd heard much about them, was aware that they had a hand in the Sledgehammer video, but had never seen any of their films. But when I received my set yesterday and popped it in with the intent of watching one or two, I was so blown away that I had to go back and view it by way of Play All.

What caught me off guard was the total world that they created, as if the camera's POV was capturing only a small sliver of a grander enterprise. But where Tim Burton's work (and he's a clever creator by all means) comes off as somewhat concocted for purposes of entertainment and servile to narrative, the Quays seem to be documenting an actual nether region--and here Bruno Schulz's thirteenth month is appropriate--that already exists. The camera lurks about, always moving, cutting away quickly and at the very moment when a transformation or metamorphosis is occurring. The horizontal axis is no more favored than the vertical. And the speed of movement varies frighteningly; motion frequently ramped up to blur and obscure. The set designs are lavish and meticulous, yet they don't seem to be overly concerned with impressing us with their labors--and here I'm reminded of Dreyer's set for The Passion of Joan of Arc, meticulous and to scale though the camera captured so little of it.

Viewing these films one runs the risk of losing a little of their individual character and element, of blurring their margins; but the reward is seeing their steady development.
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There may well just be two camps regarding Quay brothers films. Not unlike those who either like licking marmite off penguins, and those who don't. Either this is your bag or it is something that should remain inexplicable.

The range of flavours here are toward their usual shadowy, hinting of a nightmare hinterland, even in the colour shorts that are not pure monochrome. A persistent tone of catching these worlds in the act. A persuasive entry ticket into the realm of someone's psyche. Many arty phrases could i engineer.

However, add to the precision involved, their insightful & entertaining commentary on these pieces, and even more interest is aroused. The addition of details, of phantasmic allusions to authors, artists and particularly outsiders of every stripe, is what appeals. The uncanny seems almost natural, the necessary measure for the haunting sounds & discordant melody of the image.

If there's any flaw in this excellent rendering & restoration it is that someday a box-set of Quay Brothers complete works, after much license stamping in the mode of Kafka, would mean this exquisite series of overtly engothed artifices will be on a shelf, quivering with envy.
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Following the exhibition in the Museum Of Modern Art in New York recently I was re-inspired by their work. I was familiar with the Piano Tuner of Earthquakes and the Institute Benjamenta, but until my visit to the gallery was not acquainted with their short films.
The Quay brothers hail from Philadelphia, but much of the work on these discs emanate from work completed in their London Studio. Their obsession with detail and minutiae is part of the hook which draws the viewer in. The viewer is no longer the fisher but the fish in the surreal nightmares which unfold on the screen.
The Quay Brothers might be unfamiliar, but perhaps their commercial work is not . An example of this is their pop video for Peter Gabriel `Sledge Hammer' (not on this DVD). In the world of pop videos and tv advertisements they are very influential and have spawned many imitators and others who have stolen their ideas wholesale. Some of you might be familiar with Fred Stuhr's video for Tool's video of their song `Sober'.
By using broken dolls, dust and dirt, rusting screws, machines exposing fleshy insides- using stop-start animation techniques; places the observer in an uncomfortable but compelled position.
Not all their films are on these discs however and are ones commissioned by Channel 4 tv in the UK
And include the marvellously dark and incomprehensible Street of Crocodiles when a voyeur unleashes a scenario within a encaged world, with little light and controlled by wires. The story is about curiosity, decay and detritus within which some life lurks within every shadow. But enough of my construct of what it might be about. I urge you to watch the film yourself.
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