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This Unnameable Little Broom (Epic of Gilgamesh)

The Quay Brothers
UK 1985 / 11’

The film’s full title is Little Songs of the Chief Officer of Hunar Louse, or This Unnameable Little Broom, Being a Largely Disguised Reduction of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Tableau II. In an episode of the Epic, Gilgamesh attempts to capture Enkidu, “a wild man from the steppes of superhuman power”. Finally, he lures Enkidu into a trap using a prostitute. This thread, although “largely disguised”, is the narrative axis of the Quays’ film. However, The Broom contains much more inspirations and references, starting from the design of the Gilgamesh puppet, drawn from painting by Heinrich-Anton Müller, Swiss art brut artist. The film’s general atmosphere was also influenced by the avant-garde prose of Konrad Bayer, member of the Vienna Group. The title “Hunar Louse” is an anagram of the “Lunar House”, the seat of the immigration office, which – personified by an overzealous clerk – tries to expel the Quays from Great Britain, questioning their visa. Thus, the mise-en-scène, with Gilgamesh playing on a tricycle, is a police station and children’s room in one. The broken tennis racket hanging on wires could be previously seen in the brothers’ student etude Palais des Flammes, made at the Royal College of Art in London.

 

Jakub Mikurda

Bracia Quay

Twins, born in 1947. They studied in Philadelphia and continued their education at the Royal College of Art in London, where in the 1970s they directed their first short films. In the 1980s, they made commercials (for Honeywell, Walkers Crisps, and Dulux Wood Protection), music videos (the most famous one - for Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer), and animations which made them popular – The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer, Street of Crocodiles. In 1995, their first feature film premiered: Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream That One Calls Human Life, winner of the Bronze Horse in Stockholm and the jury’s award at the Fantasporto festival. Another full-length live acting film by the brothers is The PianoTuner of EarthQuakes. Their art is inspired by literature, especially by prose by Bruno Schulz and lately - Stanisław Lem.