CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 11 . . . . January 25, 2008
The story goes like this: Madame Tutli-Putli, enormous amount of luggage in hand, boards a night train in a timeless and deserted station. She observes her compartment-mates with interest but loses interest when her slimy tennis-pro seatmate makes very graphic obscene gestures at her. As she sleeps, the train is stopped in the middle of the Canadian wilderness, complete with fir trees and moose, and is boarded by mysterious men who appear to connect a hose to the train that releases a green gas in the passenger compartments, then remove what looks to be the kidney of the sleeping tennis pro. Running desperately from car to car, Madame finds herself following a ubiquitous moth towards the train's headlamp - and seems to join the moth itself.
But the story is not everything. This film, a triple winner at Cannes, is a fascinating piece of wordless stop-motion animation which employs some amazing visual effects, not the least of which is the disturbingly lifelike appearance of the puppets. Madame, herself, employs subtle facial expressions that would not be out of place in the most artful live-action film and which seem to have been done without the aid of computer animation. The entire set and its production evokes a compelling air of mystery and light humour. Of course, the mystery, itself, is - where does reality and imagination start and end, and what is the meaning of what we are seeing? For that reason, the film is a perfect subject for a film studies course.
Todd Kyle, a former President of the Canadian Association of Children's Librarians, is currently a library branch manager in Mississauga, ON.
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