Archive for Gogol

Math Appeal

Posted in FILM, literature, Science with tags , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2012 by dcairns

Chuck Jones’ skilled and witty film of Norton Juster’s script of his own short story.

It should have been un-adaptable, like Gogol’s The Nose, but everything works, except maybe the social attitudes. Stuff like “didn’t know what to do with her hands” is just delightful, because it sets up just the kind of cognitive dissonance (“WHAT hands?”) that laughter is made of — when two irreconcilable concepts forcibly co-exist, the brain can only escape a Robbie the Robot short circuit by bolting through the escape hatch marked GIGGLE.

The Dot is a really horrible character. There’s a real “Hero of the Beach” muscle-mag attitude that women are passive objects to be competed over by men. While the Line and the Squiggle enter into this honestly and without actually being mean to each other, the Dot is a spoilt, malicious creature who abuses anyone who doesn’t satisfy her incessant demands for novelty. I hope the poor Squiggle finds somebody more his own speed and settles down into a life of creative anarchy.

Apparently this is available on a DVD of Frank Tashlin’s THE GLASS BOTTOM BOAT, which is vaguely apt, but it should really be an extra with VERTIGO. Both because of the ways in which Jones’s visuals approach Saul Bass’s (the YouTuber who posted it apparently thinks it’s by Norman McLaren — a fair guess, but WRONG), and in the way the short reverses the sympathies engendered in Hitchcock’s film — a woman trapped and torn and manipulated and molded between two horrible men is replaced by a female manipulator who remodels the men in her life, rejecting the less adaptable model in favour of the one who can literally be bent to her will.

A small contribution to the short animation blogathon hosted by Pussy Goes Grrr.


Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on May 9, 2008 by dcairns


Craziness from VIY, a Russian fantasy film based (faithfully!) on a story by Nikolai Gogol.

The story was also the source for Mario Bava’s BLACK SUNDAY / MASK OF SATAN, but Bava and his co-scenarists changed the story out of all recognition — possibly out of fear of touching on religious matters. One gets the impression they only left Gogol’s name in the credits to lend the film class. Not that they need have worried, that seminal slice of Italian gothic is in a class by itself.

But the Italian version uses just the Russian setting and the idea of a cursed dead girl, whereas Georgi Kropachyov and Konstantin Yershov’s film follows Gogol’s tall tale fairly exactly, expanding it from short story form by the simple method of vastly inflating the fantasy sequences with hordes of phantoms (Gogol’s story is already pretty excessive). The above is only a small selection from the carnival of creeps at the climax.

The Witch’s Ride

Posted in FILM, literature, Mythology with tags , , , on May 8, 2008 by dcairns

From THE VIY, based on a short story by Gogol. This has to be the most beautiful witch-flight on film outside of KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE. Unlike me, the movie is beautiful and AVAILABLE.


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