Movie Review: Strings

Posted: January 25, 2010 in Movie Review, Reviews
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Strings (2004 Bald Film, Dir. Anders Ronnow Klarlund)

This a fantasy tale in which all the players are marionettes, who are fully aware of this fact and live in a marionette’s world. When their strings are cut they die, when there is a barrier above them, they can’t move about, and when they run into each other they risk getting their strings tangled. This remains pretty consistent through out the entire movie and in many respects shapes how the movie works. Their prisons don’t have bars they have a small wooden frame so that their strings are caught in a small area. If they loose a hand, which is represented by the string that holds their hand being cut, they simply get another one from a slave. Technically, the movie is a marvel.

How about the story? Young Hal, the prince of Hebalon led to believe that his father’s suicide was in fact a murder committed by their hated enemies the Zeriths. This is just a ploy to get rid of the young prince of course. Hal leaves on a quest of revenge but when he leaves Hebalon he discovers that most people think of Hebalon as the place that has been oppressing them. He comes to discover that his father was a bad man who killed lots of people and was only repentant in the end of his life. He then meets up with the Zeriths, falls in love with a nice Zerith girl and learns his enemy might not be who he thought it was. While this is going on, Hal’s sister Jhinna is being held captive by their uncle and his evil henchman who wants to have her for his own. To use a phrase I coined for the best way to end a story review without giving away the ending ‘and then wackiness ensues.’

I’ve read a couple reviews taking the movie to task for having a simplistic or unoriginal story, but I don’t credit that on either count. The people who said that were just trying to find something not to like since it’s not true on either account. The story is wrapped up in the world, which while not as rich or complex as some people might want, is described to us from the ground up. Understanding the full history of the world and it’s approach to art and learning would have distracted too much from the tale and from really learning the basic mechanics of the world. We have to come in knowing that this world is unlike our own in almost every way, and the movie explains the world to us so we can understand it. If you find the idea of international intrigue and royal shenanigans in a fantasy movie unoriginal, then you are now required to hate Star Wars, The Lord of The Rings, the whole of William Shakespeare’s work, any story that has anything to do with Rome and the Lion King. Usurper takes the throne from boy king who has to get it back is unoriginal? Well, so is boy meets girl and yet romances sell quite well.

Everyone who is in this story has a complete story. All the stories reach a logical if not happy conclusion by the end of the tale and nothing leaves you wondering about what happened or how they reached that end. Klarlund and his co writer Naja Marie Aidt clearly thought this tale through and wrote it very carefully. The end result is that their tale is free from inconsistencies on both the technical and the story sides. Of course the story is a little simplistic, but the technical side was extremely impressive.

Now having said all that I must say that to a certain extent you have to treat this like an animated movie. It clocks in at 90 minutes, so there is a lot in the movie which has to be picked up more through seeing things than really having them expressly explained. The technical difficulty of just making the movie requires that the film be short so that it can be made in a reasonable amount of time. This means you do get limited to how many characters are on screen, moving, at any one time. The marionettes also have no facial movements as their heads are carved from a single piece of wood. They get eye movement, but that’s all.

I would totally recommend this movie to everyone in the world and their kids. If I had small children, which I don’t, I’m not sure I would want them to watch this alone. I would want them to watch it, but I would want to be there with them at least the first couple of times. There are a few things which kids should probably have a parent around for, if nothing else than because kids like explaining things for adults who don’t get what’s going on. Bottom line, this is a good movie. It might come a shade shy of greatness, but that depends on personal preference and I can totally see it being some people’s favorite movie. Totally worth a rental, I would even go so far as to say you should buy it.

Official Score:
32 Degrees on the Graffiti Bridge Scale.

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  1. katie pank says:

    I don’t think this movie is un-original at all. I saw it on sbs the other night and it was the best animation ever. Better than any hollywood produced movies nowadays, in terms of writing a good story. I wish more people would see it.

    • greyweirdo says:

      In terms of production and design is it amazingly original. The main story is standard fantasy fare though. However, the way they integrate the world into the story is really cool.

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