The Puppet Animation of Kihachiro Kawamoto

A three-program retrospective on Kihachiro Kawamoto, whose handsome and haunting puppet animations draw heavily on Japanese tales of the supernatural. Making its Chicago premiere, The Book of the Dead (2005, 70 min.) is about an eighth-century princess locked in combat with a warrior's ghost; the director has said that it represents his ambition to “heal those innocent people who have died in recent wars.” For their punch and diversity, you might want to try the two programs collecting Kawamoto's shorts from 1968 through 1990. “Haunted Journeys and Demon Pranksters” (72 min.) includes the blood-curdling The Demon (1972), in which two brothers on a hunting expedition sever the arm of a marauding creature and then discover that the limb belongs to their old mother, and A Poet's Life (1974), one of Kawamoto's 2-D experiments, in which a woman is pulled out of her clothes and spun into a sweater. “Tales of East and West” (74 min.) features the uncharacteristic but hugely eerie Anthropo-Cynical Farce (1970), about a surreal circus performance, and the primal House of Flame (1979), in which a woman dithering between two suitors discovers that they've killed each other in a suicide pact.

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