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‘The Forbidden Forest’ – Short film inspired by Arthur Machen’s ‘The White People’

Forbidden forest-3

Directed, animated, scored, and edited by filmmaker Keith Ronindelli, this amazing short film evokes the dark mystery and sacred terror of Arthur Machen’s classic tale “The White People” in just six minutes. I’m personally struck by the depth and richness of both the vision and the execution, and by the sheer awesomeness of the hallucinatory imagery arising from the young protagonist’s discovery of a pagan shrine in a forest, whose general character is indicated by a line from Machen’s story that appears as an epigraph at the start of the film: “It was so strange and solemn and lonely, like a hollow temple of dead heathen gods.”

Ronindelli explained his intentions and inspirations to Cartoon Brew back in 2011 when the film was released:

The Forbidden Forest is inspired by the work of Arthur Machen, who was a Welsh writer of supernatural fiction from the late 19th and early 20th century, specifically his classic tale “The White People.” I’m also a big fan of 1960s and 1970s animation and cinema, so the impetus for the piece was an attempt to marry the feel of Arthur Machen with movies such as René Laloux’s Fantastic Planet, Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man, and the films of Stanley Kubrick, namely 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining.

Outsider art is another longtime love of mine, and I wanted the piece to somehow fuse a 60s/70s widescreen cinematic language with the strange, obsessive imperfectness of outsider artists such as Henry Darger and Adolf Wolfli.

Here’s the high-res version of The Forbidden Forest from Vimeo. Headphones are definitely recommended for catching all the nuances of the soundtrack. If you have a problem with playback, try the lower-res version at YouTube.

RELATED POST: Cosmic Horror vs. Sacred Terror,” a Teeming Brain podcast featuring a roundtable discussion of the comparisons and contrasts between the respective weird fictional visions and philosophies of Arthur Machen and H. P. Lovecraft.



The mind boggles at this stunning animated film, released in summer 2012, that tells “A story about the fire at the heart of suffering. Bringing together dancers, musicians, visual artists and 3d animators, the film takes a critical look at the events of the past decade that have shaped our world.” With a “cast” that includes many massively important figures on the world stage (both ancient and modern, historical and mythological), and featuring a fairly amazing original musical score, the film is replete with mystical, occult, esoteric, and religious symbolism. It’s an instance of politically and religiously charged surrealism of the most edgy, beautiful, and mind-blowing sort.

If you’d like a breakdown of the “plot,” see this review at Greenewave. Otherwise, just open your mind and watch. More than once, preferably, if you want to catch all that’s going on.

The director is Louis Lefebvre. The production company is Heliofant, whose self-described mission is the use of computer animation, driven by art and artists from multiple fields, for explicitly philosophical and spiritual ends:

Based in the beautiful Laurentian mountains just north of Montreal, Canada, Heliofant is a nascent independent computer animation studio focused on creating experimental and challenging content. Bringing together artists from the fields of dance, music, computer animation and visual arts, the company is very interested in exploring the common ground that underlies many spiritual and philosophical traditions in a lyrical form.

Image via Heliofant

Crossover (SHORT FILM)

Is it a fable or parable, perhaps? About ecology or religion, maybe? If it’s the latter, is it a symbolic statement about the means by which organized/institutional Christianity has historically been disseminated to, and often forced upon, “primitive” peoples?

Whatever it is, it’s a fascinating piece of work that has drawn a lot of attention, and it certainly arrested ours when it was recommended to us by Jesús Olmo. Two months ago the film even made it all the way to the finals in the animation category at the 2012 Vimeo Awards in New York.

The filmmaker is Fabian Grodde, and the film itself was his thesis project at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. There’s an official description, but it’s fairly skeletal:

Pictures of an elaborately designed miniature setting of a forest were filmed solitary and combined with 3D animations of firebugs and gardenspiders in post-production. Accompanied with sound effects and appropriate electronic music the bugs are taking action…

A helpful review at Short of the Week gives a more detailed idea of both the technical brilliance and the thematic depth of “Crossover”:

The landscapes Grodde and his team have created for his CGI bugs to inhabit manage to feel grand in scale, despite their restricted size. It is a sense of grandeur that is only multiplied by the cinematography as director of photography Raphael Köhler’s camera sweeps and circles the scenery in a Lord of the Rings fashion. The meticulous detailing isn’t restricted to the film’s surroundings, though, as Grodde’s bugs scuttle and crawl across the frame with a realism that sends shivers down your spine.

Crossover’s powerful imagery is perfectly matched with a fascinating narrative that pays homage to the cinematic great King Kong, whilst also managing to comment on the reach of Christianity across the globe. It’s a combination that results in an enthralling amalgamation of style and story, presenting us with a film that is truly rich in originality and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

We heartily concur. Enjoy.

The Tragedy of Man (MOVIE TRAILER)

The movie trailer itself can be a form of art, as witnessed by the just-released mega-trailer for Cloud Atlas, the forthcoming new film from the Wachowskis. Trailers not only advertise a film but, in some cases, can present and possess their own inherent logic, flow, and narrative arc, and can generate a memorable viewing experience in their own right.

This principle is illustrated by the trailer for The Tragedy of Man (2011), a Hungarian animated film written and directed by Marcell Jankovics and adapted by him from the play by Imre Madách. Jankovics spent nearly 20 years (!) making the film, and the fruits of his labor are quite visible in the trailer itself.

Here it is, followed by details about the film’s origin, plot, and production.

Cannes Palm D’Or winner and Oscar-nominated Hungarian legend of animation Marcell Jankovics adapted the script of The Tragedy of Man in 1983 from Imre Madách’s play. The production of the film started in 1988 but only concluded at the end of 2011 after two and a half decades of struggle. The most acclaimed Hungarian play was written 150 years ago, it was translated to 90 languages, being constantly compared to Goethe’s Faust or Dante’s Divina Comedia not only because of its theme but also due to its qualities. The play still lives its life in the European cultural sphere: it has been recently translated to Russian and Italian for the umpteenth time. The film follows the structure of the play: it consists of 15 acts that guide us through the past and the future of mankind.

Greek film reviewer Vassilis Kroustallis gives this informative description and reaction:

[The Tragedy of Man tells] the epic and bleak story of human civilisation, from the Garden of Eden to the chilling humanoid future. Lucifer, the co-creator of the world (according to his statement) tests Adam and puts him to sleep to see his destiny through the ages. The trip is interesting, visually stimulating (but never pretty), and relentlessly repeating. Not a single note of happiness or laughter enters The Tragedy of Man, which proceeds from the Garden of Eden to Egypt and then to classical Greece, Rome, Christianity and beyond. At the some time, even the most shocking scenes (decapitation for instance) are given almost philosophically calm, as a result of the inevitable recurring world press. The choice of the stories to tell is varied and remarkable. Along with the usual historical suspects (Danton and the French Revolution, Hitler and Stalin), the Miltiades story from Greece (a general who becomes a traitor), and the Tancred and Crusades segment — along with the battles on the Filioque — are a treat to watch in this context. Yet, the most dramatic story is the one of Copernicus. In a film that utilizes an impressive array of visual styles, the almost simplistic black-and-white story of a genius who lives by telling the daily horoscope is fascinating and ironic enough to give credit to the insatiable but dooming need of the man to knowledge.

As a bonus, here Jankovics’ complete short film “Sisyphus,” which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1975.