Film Series : Making 'Em Move: A History of Animation

Institute Benjamenta

1995, Stephen Quay and Timothy Quay, UK/Germany, 105 min. With Mark Rylance, Alice Krige.

Show Times

  • Fri, Sep 29th 8:15pm
  • Tue, Oct 3rd 6:00pm

"A triumph of the surreal, a masterwork of fantasy, and a breathtakingly tenebrous walk off the beaten path and into the dark, pulsing forest of dreams." — Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle

The US-born, UK-based identical twins known as the Brothers Quay made their reputations with a series of elusive, eerily beautiful stop-motion animations that imbued objects and puppet figures with uncanny vitality. INSTITUTE BENJAMENTA was their first feature-length film and their first live-action film with human actors, but what is remarkable is how closely it resembles their previous works, subtly eroding the boundary between the animate and the inanimate. Based on a 1909 novella by Swiss writer Robert Walser and photographed in gauzy, shimmering black-and-white, it centers on a young man (Rylance) who enrolls in a Germanic school for training servants through a series of bizarre, repetitive exercises designed to instill perfect subservience. Filled with odd exhibits, contraptions, and rituals, it could also be an enchanted castle, complete with a fairy-tale princess in the form of the demanding yet vulnerable Lisa (Krige), sister of the Institute's unhinged headmaster (Gottfried John). In English and German with English subtitles. 35mm. (MR)

Tuesday, October 3: Lecture by Eric Patrick, award-winning animator and Associate Professor at Northwestern University.

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