FRANK & ZED
written and directed by Jesse Blanchard
starring Alex Cox
written and directed by Phil Tippett
by Walter Chaw William Blake etched the plates he used to press his poems with acid. His first books were hand-made by him in this way. He called it the "infernal method," and the idea driving it is that every work of art is enlivened by the hand of its creator. Literally. He believed that touching a thing imbued it with animated qualities in the "soul-giving" sense of the word. I think about that whenever I watch any sort of puppetry or, as it relates to film more commonly, stop-motion animation. Maybe I'm imagining it, but I think Blake had a point. I feel like there's a specific quality of life in graven idols that have been directly manipulated by the human hand. Traditional cel animation? The same: the little imperfections, the stutters and hesitations that keep it just the other side of the Uncanny Valley. It's hard to put a finger on what it is, but it's stimulating in the same way a film projected on 35mm is ineffably different from the same film streamed digitally. Shadows on the wall and all that; maybe Plato and John Lennon had something there. William Blake was, of course, a prophet.