Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Jan Svankmajer's "The Fall of the House of Usher"

Jan Svankmajer's film of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" is perhaps the best screen adaptation of a Poe work. It's now available on YouTube with English subtitles. Svankmajer is a Czech filmmaker known for his stop-motion techniques (usually clay animation) and use of exaggerated sound effects. 

Svankmajer is able to recreate Poe's nightmarish sense of fear and doom without the use of actors. He relies entirely on imagery and inanimate objects to convey this bizarre and surreal tale. The soundtrack is filled with groanings and creakings adding to the feeling of decay and horrorI first saw this film in the mid-1980s at a local art house theater in Berkeley. The movie is certainly unsettling and unconventional, yet never boring.

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