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DVD Review: Three Fragments of A Lost Tale

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Microcinema International releases the DVD Three Fragments of a Lost Tale this week. The stop-motion animated film by California-based sculptor John Frame is the first part of a much larger project that the artist has been working on for the past six years.

Using found materials and carved wooden puppets, Frame creates a world that is at times beautiful, mysterious, and even eerie. With the assistance of only a few members of his family, Frame has also created all of the other aspects of the film, including music, lighting, and photography.

The DVD includes Frame’s 12 and 1/2-minute film as well as the eight-minute documentary Happy Medium by Johnny Coffeen. In Happy Medium viewers are taken behind the scenes, into Frame’s workshop and magical world, where the artist talks about his process.

Three Fragments of A Lost Tale includes one color DVD disc with a total approximate running time of 20 minutes. The images are sharp and the colors rich and crisp. Frame’s love of old silent films comes through the chiaoscuro-like, atmospheric lighting. Frame has been working as an artist, in drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture, since the 1970s.

It is hard to categorize Three Fragments of A Lost Tale as simply animation, as the staging at times suggests an art exhibit, or even a theater or dance piece. The two short films included on the DVD should make audiences eager for more of what’s to come. Frame ultimately intends to compile a feature-length series of animated and live films to tell a much larger story. Three Fragments of A Lost Tale is unusual, and undeniably truly original.

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