The Cadence is my first animated feature. It’s a work in progress I began in 2015, filmed in stop-motion using marionettes made of paper, old book cloth, and thread.
The scene is a forest, populated by bizarre characters who enter and exit swiftly, as on a puppet theatre stage: masked children waiting for the last leaf to fall; a wide-eyed boy, lover of silence; a murderer carving letters in tree bark; a bear hiding in a closet; a horse escaped from a sausage factory; a sorrowful librarian; a hunter hunted; and many more.
The time is the fall, a season of repetition and suddenness and waiting. By way of encounter— apparition, flight, jump, stare, fight, dance, touch, caress, blow, wound, fugue—the characters move from tenderness to violence, from solitude to longing, from mourning to feast, from stasis to trajectory. Their destination, the end of the story, is the start of a history without violence or labor.
Reminiscent of the narrative detours of fairy tales and the aesthetic of 19th-century movable books, The Cadence is a film without dialogue, carried entirely by images and by the music of Rev. Freddie and Chiara Lee (of the late band Father Murphy). The gracefulness and limited range of the marionettes’ limbs point to our own physicality. The Cadence is filled, like all plays of puppetry, with accidents, happening to and from bodies. Dressed in brightly colored textures, it is a vision of utopia, a concrete Land of Cockaigne of what-is-not-yet. As Baruch Spinoza wrote: “no one yet has determined what the body can do.”
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