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The impact of Victorian catalog cutouts is a long trail that runs through several important filmmakers, most notably Lawrence Jordan and Terry Gilliam. The first feature film I can think of that used the technique, was Harry Smith's legendary film Heaven + Earth Magic, which was cut several times between 1957 and 1962. The Grand old man of Avant Garde, Jonas Mekas, was the one who gave it a name.
This is not a non-narrative film, it tells a story of... well, all sorts of things. It's a fun, and surprisingly dark, film. I love the feeling it gives off, as if you're inside of one of Joseph Cornell's boxes, watching the rather disparate pieces interact in a fashion that defines the entire film as surrealist, as opposed to Dadaist. There is a meaning, a story of a fashion, but it's not one of our world, of our time, but of a timeless, world-less place, and that makes it phenomenally powerful.
Of course, this brings me to Gilliam. Hiis Monty Python animations certainly show the influence of Smith's work, as well as Lawrence Jordan, and he took it to a comedy place, toning down the artistic nature and playing it for laughs. Smith and Jordan's works are playful, but never comedic.
Klaus at Gunpoint
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