Sunday, May 15, 2022

Le ravissement de Frank N. Stein (1982)

... aka: Ravishing of Frank N. Stein, The

Directed by:
Georges Schwizgebel

Truly amazing how obscure stuff like this can be plucked right out of the ether whenever a famous, overexposed celebrity gives it just a second or two of their attention. A still from this 9-minute short was posted on Kanye West's Instagram account in anticipation of the release of his 2021 album Donda and then suddenly everyone's watching it, giving it 5 star ratings, writing pretentious reviews all over the internet and going into deep examinations of why the artist brought it to their attention in the first place. The most liked review on LB states "Perpetual descent into unending permutations of geometric dungeon gradually inducing greater and greater hallucinatory flickering like an unending transcription of becoming / coming-into-being mapped into cryptic Wizardry style wireframe dungeon crawling." Yeah man! Not that I necessarily mind any of this per se. I just find it interesting as well as very, very amusing. For the record, Kanye's seal of approval wasn't really even anything new. He just happens to be much more famous than Oneohtrix Point Never, who'd already used a still from this for the cover of their sixth studio album, R Plus Seven, in 2013. Funny thing is, I actually didn't find the short itself pretentious at all, just the silly gobbledygook people slap together to try to describe something like this in more "intellectual" terms.

This is a pretty straightforward birth-life changes-love audio-visual experience, which melds animation, surrealism and great experimental music by Rainer Boesch and Michael Horowitz to hypnotic effect. We open with flashes of blurry light, followed by what look like random brush strokes. Some dissolves are used to bring certain images into clearer detail, like bones, skulls, the Bride of Frankenstein and, finally, Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory. As the camera moves forward in the lab, we find a doorway. From there on out, the camera travels through one doorway after another. Things start out dark and become brighter. Shapes are then introduced. Those shapes eventually become silhouettes of faceless people, which then become more detailed the more rooms the camera enters.

Occasionally, we head down a flight of of stairs. We also travel through a tunnel. Sometimes color and background scenery (mountains, the ocean) are introduced briefly as the people-shapes go through some fuzzy metamorphosis and come into greater and greater detail. We're eventually left with numerous Frankenstein Monsters and Brides, which culminate in a recreation of the famous rejection scene in Whale's Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Make of it what you want, or make nothing of it at all. Either way, it's appreciable as a piece of visual art on whichever terms you choose. Let's just hope Kim Kardashian doesn't suddenly start taking a liking to Larry Buchanan or Todd Sheets movies any time soon.

Dialogue-free so there's no language barrier to overcome, this was nominated for various awards at film festivals like the Berlin International Film Festival and the Chicago International Film Festival. It's included on a DVD box set (released in Switzerland only) along with 14 other shorts from the director. It's also currently on Youtube.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...