Paper Cinema

Benjamin Davis catches up with the latest Paper Cinema double bill, 'King Pest'/'The Night Flyer' at the Little Angel

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  • On paper, this sounds rubbish. Anyone want to come see a film lacking all the basics - script, actors, film stock? But with great restriction comes great beauty, and so it proves with this magical offering from BAC-supported artists Paper Cinema.

    At its essence – and really there is nothing more than essence in this 45-minute dream – we have a camera, before which the ‘puppetteers’ Nick Rawling and Sarah Cuddon parade a series of Rawling’s card illustrations, accompanied by Kieron Maguire’s beautiful viola and flamenco guitar playing. The criss-crossing illustrations create three theatrical dimensions, with the fore, middle and backgrounds constantly in flux. In ‘King Pest’, we are transported to Edgar Allan Poe’s plague-infested town, and born away by love and the sea, while in ‘The Night Flyer’ a magical highland train journey transports us across the sky and through the key-hole. The flux portrays motion to spellbinding effect, but the whole piece might be aided by longer sequences of stasis. I was reminded of how the BBC’s animated ‘Hamlet’, which used similar techniques, managed to create the required moments of solitude and stillness.

    Rawling’s universe combines the fantasy of Lewis Carroll and Maurice Sendak, the sketchy realism of Quentin Blake, the gothicism of Hieronymus Bosch and the poise of Alexander Calder’s sculptures. It feels like being taken into your eccentric uncle’s yurt in Dorset so he can show you what he’s been up to. The cumulative charm is akin to the best children’s books or the earliest cinema and zoetrope, providing the perfect salve for all us fluro-overloaded technophobes. Who’d have thought the zeitgeist would be so spartan?

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