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Stille Nacht III (Tales from the Vienna Woods)

The Quay Brothers
UK 1992 / 4’

In hunters’ slang “myłkus” means a deer with an abnormally developed antler. Such a deformation may be caused by an injury to a testicle. In the opening shots of Tales From Vienna Woods there appears an asymmetric distorted antler with an inscription in death have I blossomed (Ich bin im Tod erblüht). The film reconstructs in a dream-like deformation the moment of shooting – “the deer” is a table with a skull as a head and cones as testicles (a similar table – is it the same one? – appeared for a while in Are We Still Married, while the bullet on a long spoon looks like the tablet of Dramolet). A detached hand is a sort of a master of ceremony: a favourite motif of surrealists, which appeared in Nadja by Breton and in unmade film screenplays by Desnos and Soupault. The Quay Brothers used the abridged version of Stille Nacht III as a trailer for Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life (the film institute is situated in a former factory of perfumes made from deer musk, there are antlers on walls, on the fence of the internal garden there is an anamorphic image of a rutting deer and doe-eyed Lisa Benjamenta holds a pointer with a hoof at the end). The score is with the Drohobycz ambient again, well-known from the first part of the Stille Nacht series.

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.

Cast & Crew

director The Quay Brothers
screenplay The Quay Brothers
cinematography The Quay Brothers
visual design The Quay Brothers
producer Keith Griffiths
production Koninck Studios
source of print British Film Institute
language English
colouration colour