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Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies

The Quay Brothers
UK 1987 / 14’

One of the most extraordinary films by the Quay brothers, the first made exclusively in black and white. The Quays themselves described it as a “a private documentary on the straight line, that bleeds and runs and is softened by the [changing] focus”. The main puppet, which keeps rubbing the growth on its forehead, was inspired by a poster by Franciszek Starowieyski (the same one which can be seen on the door in the opening frame of Street of Crocodiles) and the macabre 18th-century anatomic preparations by Honoré Fragonard, a cousin of the painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard. The latter’s graphic The Bolt (a man and a woman in a sleeping-room, the woman is stopping the man from either opening or closing the door – one cannot say which) was the starting point of the second part of the film. The music by Leszek Jankowski was originally meant to be the soundtrack for the Quays’ film based on Franz Kafka’s Diaries. Rehearsalsand as they said: “is entirely about employing analogic space and parallel worlds which are resolutely kept apart but strangely linked and all in flux and although separate, they seem to reflect the tremblings and breathings of each other or the forecasting of something not recognisable.”

 

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.