September 19, 2005 | THIS ALTOGETHER THUNDER

Anything with “dark” in the title is guaranteed to be good

And sometimes things just appear at your fingertips. Today (thanks to I stumbed upon Ðarkςτridε

Pied piper from Krysar
From Jiri Barta’s Krysar (Pied Piper) / Ðarkςτridε

Damn. This site is amazing: a look at stop-motion animation from around the world, concentrating on Czech and other Eastern European animators. It is filled with video clips and seems to be updated very frequently too. I watched about an hour’s worth of clips (a couple of them are as much as ten minutes long) and everything ranged from pretty good to astonishingly great. I might even follow some of the tips and suggestions for purchasing foreign DVDs (and I wouldn’t be too afraid of websites in West Slavic languages), because the tiny resolution and screen size make the video clips almost tantalizing in their hints of majesty and wonder that a larger screen would bring.

Spejbl and Hurvenik
From Jiri Trnka’s Spejbl and Hurvenik / Ðarkςτridε

Here I am again with the Eastern European thing. I swear that wasn’t the plan for the day, it just keeps coming up. And sure, a few of the entries were sort of Worker and Parasite-esque, but I actually like that kind of thing anyway. On the clips page, there are fairies and fairy tales, giant squid and flying elephants. It’s just a stunning testimony to the power of the imagination.

I am also intrigued by the author of the page, who is working on animation projects himself. From the blog entries, it seems like one of his long-term projects remains unscripted but is called “The Ahab Project”… man I got to start writing that dude a script! To combine two of my obsessions (claymation and Moby-Dick)! Just the thought of it makes me laugh in exhilaration…

A fierce-looking Ahab / Mike Brent

Now I’m jealous. I want to make puppets and stuff.

On some related topics, I heard that Corpse Bride got good reviews. I was skeptical but I will go see it for myself. Also I was thinking about writing something about Brian Froud and looked at his website. It is okay, but buried in the news section was the recent bombshell that a Dark Crystal sequel is in the works! Not sure what to think about that. It says that “puppets will again be used and now complemented by numerous technologies not available twenty years ago.” Hmm. Again I’m not holding my breath. I think they pretty much wrapped up all the loose ends in the original, didn’t they? Maybe the crystal will shatter again?

Well, time will tell. For now I am super excited about all this low-budget stop-motion animation with its creepy Slavic overtones. It’s definitely worth spending some time at Ðarkςτridε

Pied piper from Krysar
More from Jiri Barta’s Krysar (Pied Piper) / Ðarkςτridε