With the release of Prince Caspian this week, it has set my mind towards kicking back and watching other great fantasy films. Unfortunately for us, until recently, Hollywood hasn't taken fantasy all that seriously. So we all kind of fall back on watching the same films over and over again. But there are a few oddball gems out there - a few overlooked masterpieces that I know many of you haven't seen. And Strings is one of them.
I Love it. Love it. Love it. Strings is a perfect companion piece for those of us who love watching The Dark Crystal. Conceptually brilliant, Strings is a film that immediately offers up the concept that this isn’t a fantasy film told through puppetry, but rather it is a fantasy film about a world OF puppets. Using the strings that give them life as an allegory, everything in this world is well thought out and carefully constructed. The weapons, fighting techniques, economy and even the architecture itself is designed around what a world inhabited by puppets would be like. It’s not remotely our world – it is very much theirs.
You see, the puppets KNOW they're puppets. their stings go into heaven and their religions revolve around wondering who is behind those strings. To kill one, you must cut their head string. If you have a damaged piece of your body, you can simply attach someone else's to your string - leading to a fiendish slave trade involving body part theft and sale. The concepts are riveting, but the sets, the puppets, the mastery...is INCREDIBLE. IT just looks beautiful. Made in Denmark, the film is dubbed in english (it's puppets, it was easy) and voiced by James McAvoy, Catherine McCormack and Derek Jacobi.
The story is very classic and simple, hitting upon most of the focal points that fantasy films revel in, but because of the premise, Strings proves to be the most original, wildly imaginative fantasy concept in decades. You've never seen anything like it, you haven't been introduced to a world so rich in a unique culture since you first cracked open your first Lord Dunsany or Tolkien. This is one of those movies fantasy geeks live for, and yet, few have heard of. If you love inventive fantasy, you must see this now.
I once had loaned this to a good buddy of mine who writes D&D books for a living over at WotC - so you KNOW he's a fantasy buff. He came back, handed me the DVD and said only this: "Man, a movie about puppets shouldn't be THIS moving." "You cried like a bitch, didn't you?" "Shut up."
Yeah, it's that kind of awesome. Netflix this, ask your local video store to order it or Amazon it NOW.