Goethe’s poem of gothic horror has haunted me most of my life. As a child I found the poem in a collection of books at an estate auction. I read it over and over, fascinated by this idea of the fairy realm as dark and ugly, something sinister that we should fear – not the glamour and sparkle of modern fairy tales. A warning about things that haunt old woods and black forests.
The bits and pieces, techniques and layers used to create this film are many. Dozens of forms of manipulation have been brought together, from animation to live action, from drawings to rotoscoping. This is my homage to Starewicz, Svankmajer, and the Quays – their dark dreams have inspired my nightmares, have given birth to a generation who see the eyes in the forest and know that all that is fairy is not light.
Sad that it’s taken me this long to post something by one of my favorite poets, Lucille Clifton, but I’m not crazy about the animation here, by Jason Walczyk. Like many if not most of the animations sponsored by the Poetry Foundation, in its effort to make the poem accessible it ends up diminishing much of its mystery and power.
The text of the poem is here.
Poem by the 20th-century Jewish Hungarian poet Miklós Radnóti. The animation is by Daniel Lagin, “from an illustration by a Hungarian student based on Miklos Radnoti’s poem Root,” according to the information on the video’s YouTube page. This is a deleted scene from a documentary about Radnóti, Neither Memory Nor Magic, directed by Hugo Perez, “the story of a poet who continued to write poetry even as he faced almost certain death, and one poet’s triumph over the inhumanity of his age — a story almost entirely unknown outside of Hungary.”
The original poem, “Wurzel,” is in German (text here).