Judge Brett Cullum believes every story is just plain creepier when done in puppet form.
Edgar Allan Poe's poem brought to life by creepy Gothic puppets.
Edgar Allan Poe wrote some great poems, and Annabel Lee is up there with his best. It's an Orphic tale of love and loss, and how one man rails against the death of his true love. This adaptation, Edgar Allan Poe's Annabel Lee, is a nineteen minute stop-motion animation film from the creative mind of George Higham. He's an artist committed to carrying on the time-honored tradition of film puppets in spite of the advances of computer animation which has taken over the medium. The whole affair comes off as if Clive Barker were directing great literature shorts. It's certainly worth checking out if you love the art of puppetry, or if you just find yourself longing for a really good adaptation of a Poe poem starring puppets.
The DVD will be getting a more proper release in October of this year, but sneak peeks of it are currently only available through the artist's website at www.poepuppet.com. Lurker Films will be handling the official release in October, and the website promises details soon. The disc comes fully loaded with tons of extras, including two versions of the film, extensive interviews, and a comprehensive look at what it takes to make a film like this. Basically, it all boils down to having the patience of a saint and some really good artistic puppets to make this type of project. Higham comes off as an inspired artist, and his film is appropriately trippy and wonderfully executed. I was amused to see how the lead puppet in the film looks a lot like old Edgar himself, and there are plenty of nods to the master. But he's also infused the short poem with embellishments all his own, such as a fully-realized world of half-skeletal rats and demonic seraphim who torture the characters.
What makes this all work so well is the same principle that Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas exploited quite effectively. Puppets moving on their own are damn creepy! There's something unearthly and primal about watching a doll navigate his way through a decrepit graveyard in search of his dead lover. Higham seems to be channeling German Expressionism and the traditions of noir to paint the world of the poem, which really only ever mentions "a city by the sea." What we get are painterly vistas of torture and psychic pain to embody the themes of lost love found in the source material.
I love puppets, and I am a total sucker for anything Gothic. I really enjoyed Edgar Allan Poe's Annabel Lee. I could see it playing in a dark nightclub, or in the background while you spin your favorite Metallica or Danzig CD. It's certainly not appropriate for young toddlers, but I could see it being a great Halloween treat for kids studying Poe in school. Anyone who is interested in puppetry should definitely find a way to take a look at this title. It's well executed, and looks amazing, given the constraints of the art form and the fact George Higham probably funded a lot of it on his own. It's quite an achievement!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Lurker Films
• Interview With George Higham
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