17 May 2006

Disappearing Ink XIII - Strings

Sword and Sandals month continues with a lesser known show about sword wielding puppets. Chances are, you have never heard of this one. I only sorta stumbled upon it by accident as a recommendation from Amazon.com. As hinted at by the title Strings, this movie not only stars puppets, but is about a puppets world. Rather than attempting to hide the marionettes' strings, these titular strings become a key plot point. In this world, the strings that connect to the puppets, connect them to the heavens, to each other, and give them life. The strings can get tangled or severed resulting in injury. If the headstring is cut, then the puppets dies. When new life is to be given to baby puppets, new strings from the heavens appear. Since you are already thinking it, I will come out and say that this is no Team America: World Police style parody. And believe it or not, it is easy to get lost in this film as the artistic style is so well done. The puppets have very emotive faces in spite of the fact that their mouths do not even move when they speak. Somehow, the director was able to truly capture the emotional essence of the performances using the puppets eyes, and movements. Its always nice to discover such an underappreciated gem. Released in 2004, the Danish made Strings has yet to receive a widescale recognition that it deserves.

The movie starts by showing the real world puppeteers above a stage beginning the show, and then the story takes us into the fantasy world inhabited by the characters. The plot follows a somewhat Shakespearian formula as the film begins depicting the suicide of the Hebalon king. His intentions are that his son Hal will pursue the peace that he was unable to find with the enemy Zeriths. But Hal is manipulated by his evil uncle into thinking the suicide was in fact a murder plotted by the enemy. Pledging vengeance, Hal begins a quest to find the leader of the Zeriths. While well executed, the story is not entirely original; however, the film has enough heart and creativity to make it a completely new experience. Even when Hal finds a love interest, the film manages to avoid the silliness that could so easily overtake it.

I highly recommend this film, its sure to be a pleasant surprise and a much appreciated dose of originality in our world of sequels, adaptations, and remakes. Tied by love, Bound by Hate, Strings earns an A-.

Check out my past reviews:
The Sword in the Stone
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
Princess Mononoke
The Black Cauldron
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Grave of the Fireflies
The Iron Giant
Kaena: The Prophecy

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