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Entry updated 24 July 2023. Tagged: Film.

Russian short silent animated film (1992; vt Hypnerotomahia). Pilot Moscow Animation Studio. Directed by Andrei Svislotsky. Written by Andrei Kolpin and Oleg Kuzovkov. 8 minutes. Colour.

A man, desiccated in appearance with too many teeth and eyes like scars, dreams of dawn unfurling across a landscape covered in towers. His face in profile, its eye opens, revealing the iris to be the sun casting the light. The towers' shadows move with the sun's passage whilst figures stagger along a path crossing the hills, coalescing into a centipede of tormented humans all bearing the sleeper's face. We are shown some of the towers inhabitants: a couple making love (see Sex), a man running through a corridor, corpses devoured by rats. Approaching a tower emitting light from a high window the men assemble a ladder and climb to the top, entering the mind of a slumbering woman; in the tower they see a dog leap out of the window, whereupon it becomes a dog centipede whose barking shatters the ladders leaning against other lit towers. Their noise also wakens the woman, who throws her dog out of the room. Scratching her fingernails across the door, the room darkens, leaving the woman surrounded by a circle of light which becomes an iris: the eye closes.

This is an effective work of dark surrealism: a journey across a dream landscape (see Inner Space) that touches on Horror, Absurdity and – if taken literally – Dream Hacking, accompanied by a suitably dissonant industrial soundtrack.

Hypnerotomachia appears to draw inspiration from Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499; partial trans by Joscelyn Godwin as The Strife of Love in a Dream, 1592; vt Dream of Poliphilus), attributed to Francesco Colonna (1433-1527) (see Ruins and Futurity, which briefly discusses this work). That story involved Poliphilus wandering a dreamland in search of his love, Polia, who has rejected him. [SP]


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