Forks, frames, staghorns— and a fish

Institute Benjamenta
A follow-up to the last post— I watched Institute Benjamenta last night. A surrealist experimental film by the Brothers Quay, their first live action project (as opposed to stop-motion animation). Tap the image above to see a bunch of stills.

The basic premise follows Jacob to the eponymous institute, to learn how to be a servant. The story is based on a novel, Jacob von Gunten, by Robert Walser, and you can read more about it here.

Institute BenjamentaIt’s beautifully shot and directed, with precise framing and timing of every shot. The light and shadow are treated almost as animated characters, and the look of it is very typical of a Brothers Quay project— worth watching on these merits alone. Personally, I want to live in the set.Institute BenjamentaHowever, as it nears the climax of the film, it begins to fall apart as a story-telling device, or at least to begin to lose one’s attention. The filmmakers attempt to sustain an unreal tension for too long— it was mainly, I think, the score in the last 20 minutes or so that seems to cause the failure, making the ending of the film feel anti-climactic, disappointing, but was perhaps intentional.

Still, well worth watching, and Mark Rylance is very adept in the waking dream sort of atmosphere of the film.Institute Benjamenta

I’ve finally been inside the inner chambers, and I hate to say they don’t exist. There is only a goldfish.

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