The exquisite short films of Kihachiro Kawamoto

DVD – The Exquisite Short Films of Kihachiro Kawamoto  (Kimstim, 2008, 99 mins, NTSC, subtitled)

Hunter from "The Demon"
Hunter: "The Demon"

Kawamoto has been making his stop-motion puppet animation films for half a century now.  They draw on ancient Japanese legends , Noh, Kabuki and Bunraku doll theatre, and 20th century short novels, to create art films with a uniquely Japanese poetic character.  Kawamoto learnt his skills at the legendary Kratky Studios in Prague under the mentorship of Czech animator Jiri Trnka.   The results are quite different from the popular Japanese anime which uses cell (and latterly computer) animation and is influenced by manga comics and early American cartoon animation.

The DVD contains seven short films varying in length from 8 to 19 minutes.  I might have seen one of them previously: “Dojoji Temple” in which a young monk  on a spiritual journey encounters a mysterious woman whose frenzied passions turn her into large white serpent.  The monk hides under the temple bell, but the serpent, wreathed in flame, wraps herself around it, and when the bell is lifted, only the monk’s charred corpse is left.  (and if you think this sounds weird, you should see the other short films on the DVD)

An essential DVD if you are interested in animation as art.