For anyone already familiar with the work of the Quay Brothers, no introduction is necessary. For those new to this idiosyncratic world, no introduction can prepare you, but here are some background facts. Stephen and Timothy Quay are twin brothers, now 68, who began as illustrators, then moved into animation, feature films and set design for the performing arts. Born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, the Quays studied at the Philadelphia College of Art, then moved to London in 1969 to continue their studies at the Royal College of Art. They have remained in London ever since, forming Koninck Studios with their producer, Keith Griffiths. Their work straddles film, theater and fine arts so that you are just as likely to find them at a film festival or designing a set for Broadway as at an exhibit of their work at a major museum.
The Quays' short films have an occasional live actor, but they are almost entirely populated by puppets animated by the stop-motion technique of shooting a single frame at a time. The Quays typically make their figures from old doll parts and other "found" materials, and their stories are (to put it mildly) non-linear. They draw inspiration from a range of obscure sources, many of them Eastern European and Latin American, and most of them unknown to mainstream Western audiences. As the commentaries on this Blu-ray confirm, the Quays work intuitively, and the resulting products have the intricate but inexplicable texture of a dream. In the accompanying essay, director Christopher Nolan recalls his first encounter with a Quay animation while channel surfing as a teenager. It gripped his imagination for reasons he could not explain and inaugurated a life-long obsession that ultimately resulted in the publication of this Quay collection through Nolan's production company, Syncopy Films.
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