The Short Films (1959-1984) & Theatre of Mr and Mrs Kabal (1967) | Welcome to the surreal world of Dadaist prankster Walerian Borowczyk


Following the sell-out successful release of Arrow Academy’s Camera Obscura: The Walerian Borowczyk Collection, which brings together all of the key works from the Polish film-maker’s career, five of his most provocative features as well as his shorts and animation have been released individually on Blu-ray and DVD for the first time in a new 2k digital high definition restoration.

Walerian Borowczyk's Astronaut
For the first decade of his film-making career, former colourist artist Walerian Borowczyk made short animated films in his native Poland and then in France, where he settled in the 1950s. This disc includes the majority of the shorts that he made between 1959 and 1984, including the acclaimed surrealist cut-out Astronauts, and the extraordinary Angel’s Games, which was hugely influential on likes of Jan Svankmajer, David Lynch and Terry Gilliam, who selected it as one of the best 10 animated films of all time and supplies the introduction to this release.

The Theatre of Mr & Mrs Kabal
In 1967, Borowczyk made his feature debut, the grotesque, surreal animated fantasy, The Theatre of Mr & Mrs Kabal. Rendered in mainly monochrome graphics it’s the polar opposite of Disney’s saccharine features, and is a key film in understanding Borowczyk as a master craftsman and Dadaist prankster.

Walerian Borowczyk
• Brand new 2K restorations of Borowczyk short films are presented in brand new high-definition restorations from original 35mm elements, with uncompressed mono 2.0 PCM audio and optional English subtitles.
Theatre of Mr and Mrs Kabal (1967, 73min): This strangely moving existential soap opera does away with conventional narrative (and dialogue) to evoke the highs and lows of married life. Bizarre, grotesque and strangely moving.
Astronauts (1959, 14min): With its jerky cutout figures and groundbreaking abstract photorealistic backgrounds, this is ‘a masterpiece of surrealist incongruity’. Credited as being co-directed by cine-essayist Chris Marker, whose main contribution was actually the loan of his owl, Anabase.
The Concert (1962, 6min): Mr and Mrs Kabal give a very lively concert performance.
Grandmother’s Encyclopaedia in 13 Parts (1963, 6min): Borowczyk animates cut outs from Victorian encyclopaedias and novels to comic and surrealistic effect.
Renaissance (1963): Featuring wrecked, handmade objects gradually reconstructing themselves into a still life composition before exploding once more, this was Borowczyk’s signature work.
Angels’ Games (1964, 12min): Regarded as Borowczyk’s great masterpiece, it evokes de Chirico and Magritte to describe the concentration universe of death camps and the Gulag, and succeeds in elevating animation into the realm of fine arts.
Joachim’s Dictionary (1965, 9min): Joachim defines a succession of 26 audiovisual definitions to suggest a doomed attempt at mastering the absurdities of the world.
Rosalie (1966, 15min): Based on a short story by Guy de Maupassant, Borowczyk’s favourite film relates the plight of a servant girl (played by Ligia Borowczyk) who confesses to smothering her offspring.
Gavotte (1967, 10min): Two bored dwarves fight over a cushion. Completely wordless, Borowczyk takes his dramatic cue from a gavotte by Jean-Philippe Rameau, played on a harpsichord off camera.
Diptych (1967, 8min): Two seemingly distinct ‘panels’ combine to make a unified whole.
The Phonograph (1969, 6min): In this companion piece to Renaissance, an old phonograph assembles itself and plays songs on wax drums before self-destructing.
The Greatest Love of All Time (1978, 10min): A minimalist documentary portrait of Serbia’s erotic surrealist painter Ljubomir Popovic, to the tune of Richard Wagner’s Tannhauser.
Scherzo Infernal (1984, 5min): Depicts a harshly sensual world in the fiery inferno of Hell as a nubile angel has a chance encounter with a rebel devil.
• Introduction by Terry Gilliam (2013)
Film is Not a Sausage (2014), documentary about Borowczyk’s animation featuring Borowczyk, producer Dominique Duvergé-Ségrétin, assistant André Heinrich and composer Bernard Parmegiani
Blow Ups (2014), a visual essay by Daniel Bird about Borowczyk’s works on paper
Commercials (1963-64): Holy Smoke (1963), The Museum (1964), Tom Thumb (1966)
• Reversible sleeve featuring original poster designs
• Collector’s booklet

Walerian Borowczyk


About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on September 8, 2014, in Avant Garde, Cult classic, Must-See, World Cinema and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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