Maldoror | Chicago Reader


Duncan Reekie of the UK's Exploding Cinema Collective and Karsten Weber of Germany's Filmmgruppe Chaos conceived of this 2000 compilation in which 12 different filmmakers adapted chapters of Les chants de Maldoror (1869), Lautreamont's protosurrealist attack on humanity. Using a variety of techniques, from clay animation to scratching on film, the episodes offer some provocative scenes and arresting images and occasionally bring to life the novel's strange logic (eyes in a still photo are gouged by fingers and start to bleed). Unfortunately the project is bedeviled by errors in conception and execution. The surrealists and their antecedents used a radical disjunction and disparity to attack bourgeois complacency, but the stylistic devices here can be seen in any music video; worse, many of the filmmakers literalize the texts read on the sound track, making the novel's wild, language-based visions seem cartoonish and silly. 100 min.

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