Piotr Kamler

Tantalizing Disaster (1970, Piotr Kamler)

Tantalizing Disaster is magnificent and wondrous, but it’s kind of dumb. Director Kamler is most enthusiastic about shapes, patterns and small movements.

The film concerns a cosmic ball bouncing on some cosmic stairs. Inside the cosmic ball is a big, gelatinous fat guy in a fedora. He’s got on a striped shirt. The striped shirt interests Kamler for a little while, as does the guy’s fat and how it can move.

The fat thing’s gross, but then the guy goes on a fantastic cosmic odyssey. Cosmic is just my word. Kamler doesn’t establish a setting but I can’t believe it’s about a microscopic fat man and an actual ball on stairs.

Disaster is never boring and Kamler’s always inventive, but it’s still a misfire. Kamler never justifies the need for ten plus minutes. It doesn’t need a narrative, but there should be a reason it continues for its run time.

1/3Not Recommended


Directed by Piotr Kamler; music by Robert Cohen-Solal.

The Hole (1969, Pitor Kamler)

The Hole, though a precisely, beautifully animated little (two minutes, but that run time includes titles and a preface) piece, is just a cute exercise. Director Kamler comes up with a nice illustration of the futility of the human condition. But he’s too honest and Hole is predictable.

The visuals are simple. There’s a flat piece of land, an nondescript (but unhappy) background, a sad little tree and a hole in the ground. These elements are all finely illustrated, but they’re static. The “protagonist,” a gelatinous white ball, soon appears and it’s where Kamler’s talent is clear. The shading on the ball, as it breaks shape, is just amazing.

The short gets predictable not through the story–it could have gone anywhere really–but because Kamler sets up the animation for the finale. I guess he was just being honest about it, not wanting to trick the viewer. Big mistake.

1/3Not Recommended


Directed by Piotr Kamler; music by Robert Cohen-Solal.

Winter (1964, Piotr Kamler and André Voisin)

Winter is a music video for Vivaldi’s violin concerto of the same name. Kamler does an amazing job with the video–it’s technically unbelievable at times–but it’s just a music video.

The concerto, the parts Kamler uses, is in three segments. The first two segments have identical visual accompaniment. The third is a little different, but mostly the same.

If it had a narrative, it would be one of a snowstorm. The storm moves among the regular, boring clouds, before it comes upon a great city. Or at least the towers of a great city. The snow then begins to fall, having reached its destination.

Unfortunately, for all the filmmaking ability, Kamler doesn’t attempt to make Winter do anything. His techniques all stay basically the same, just different backgrounds. It’s a great technical exercise, but lacking ambition at the same time.

Winter is a disappointment. It should be better.

1/3Not Recommended


Directed by Piotr Kamler and André Voisin.

The Elephant Spider (1967, Piotr Kamler)

Even though The Elephant Spider clearly takes place in a three dimensional world, it’s hard to think of it working if the animation weren’t so two dimensional.

The short takes place around the Big Bang… probably before. A poor creature called the Elephant Spider spends its life walking in one direction (see why the dimensional aspect is important) and the short recounts what happens when it runs out of a place to walk.

Kamler’s certainly charming and he comes up with a lot of interesting visuals—mostly on the Elephant Spider and its immediate surroundings; the backdrops are somewhat weak.

There are two significant problems though. First, Kamler’s lack of scale. It might be cool to zoom in and have it be indistinguishable, but Elephant Spider is still a narrative. Why confuse the viewer?

Second is the sound design. Bernard Parmegiani’s music is amusing, but the sound effects are hideous.

1/3Not Recommended


Written, directed and photographed by Piotr Kamler; music by Bernard Parmegiani; released by Les Films Fernand Rivers.

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