log in / register

Duet – Variations For The Convalescence Of 'A'

The Quay Brothers
UK 1999 / 15’

The first ballet film of Brothers Quay made in collaboration with choreographer Will Tuckett. Tuckett asked the Quays to create short animated sequences and then he proposed them to direct the entire film. The cinematographer was Nic Knowland who previously worked with the Brothers in Institute Benjamenta (the similarity to the photos in that film are primarily manifested in the play with light. The soundtrack includes Arvo Pärt’s compositions, Für Alina, Variationen zur Gesundung von Arinuschka and Cantus in Memoriam of Benjamin Britten. Zenaida Yanowsky, a prima ballerina of the London Royal Ballet, who played also in Quays’ later ballet films such as The Sandman and Eurydice, plays the main part.

‘It’s by watching dance that you realize that a world can be expressed through gesture, decor (like the silent cinema), music, or a look. You have to read, to interpret, the ballet – since there’s no dialogue – and that fascinates us. The way a choreographer deals with abstract space is very exciting. There is a lot to learn from that’, Brothers Quay said.


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, Will Tuckett
cinematography Nic Knowland
editing Simon Laurie
cast Zenaida Yanowsky, Adam Cooper
producer Gordon Baskerville
production Landseer
source of print Quay Brothers
language English
colouration colour