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Entry updated 26 July 2021. Tagged: Film.

French/Polish animated film (1982). Production du Cirque, Acteurs Auteurs Associés (AAA), Institut National de l'Audiovisuel (INA). Directed and written by Piotr Kamler. Music by Luc Ferrari. Colour.

First shown at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival, this film exists in two forms: a 67-minute version released in the US in 1983 with narration by Michael Lonsdale and a co-writing credit for Gabrielle Althen (this presumably being the same, or similar, to what was seen at Cannes); and a 55-minute version from 1988 without narration and without the Althen co-writing credit, but with a brief rolling introductory text added. The latter is considered the official version.

In a futuristic City, aloof but ennui-ridden giants (see Great and Small), of patrician demeanour and attire, while away their Immortal lives using advanced Technology to play with Time and their geometric creations. They await an important event, set in motion when they rescue a climber. A sentient sphere (see AI) is now produced, onto which symbols are drawn (possibly alchemical); this is sent to the human, who befriends it. The sphere is hollow and curiosity spurs him to make a small hole; after removing something from within he repairs the damage. A rot now spreads across the city and to the giants, afflicting them with mortality, as was their desire. The man and sphere now depart.

There is no dialogue and the plot is largely an excuse to display Kamler's stop motion and early CGI animation. These extended scenes use camera effects, lighting, repetition, quick cuts and suchlike to maintain interest. The first half concentrates on the giants – their routines, then their creation of the sphere: the animation here is intriguing and an interesting mood is established. The second half focuses on the climber and his interaction with the sphere: unfortunately the human figure is too puppet-like and the film lapses into silliness when he dances with and caresses the ball (this segment is noticeably shorter in the 1988 version) – though the scenes covering the release and spread of the rot are better.

The Polish-born Kamler studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, moving to France in 1959; he subsequently worked in both countries. Chronopolis must have impressed when seen on its original release, providing the viewer's taste leaned towards the experimental and did not require a plot-driven narrative. Decades later, it is best enjoyed as a historical experience, and as such is at times fascinating. Surprisingly, it won the award for best children's film of 1982 at the Fantafestival in Italy. [SP]


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