Note: When I first put together this page, I had only seen "Door" but not its companion piece "Deadsy." Since then I've had a chance to view "Deadsy" thanks to the ever-generous Tim Haillay, who kindly sent me a tape of it from the UK (along with a 1990 documentary on the making of the films, called "Deadtime Stories for Big Folk," which includes interviews with Mr. Hoban and David Anderson). When I have a chance I plan to include more information about "Deadsy" and the making of the films on this page. For now, I've added a brief description of "Deadsy," as well as the script and some additional info sent by the legendary Chris Bell.
The following credits are for "Door", and may or may not be the same for "Deadsy":
A Redwing Film Company Production for Channel Four
Animation: David Anderson, Fred Reed
Music: Dirk Campbell
Producers: James Bradley, Barnaby Spurrier
Length: "Deadsy" is 5 minutes, "Door" is 6 minutes.
"Door" is available in the US on a video compilation called The British Animation Invasion (I first saw it as part of that program at a local art house theater, circa 1991). It costs about forty bucks (US) (please verify price before ordering!) and can be ordered from Expanded Entertainment in the at 1-800-996-TOON. (Their hours are Monday-Friday 9am-6pm PST.) It can also be ordered by mail:
Catalog number EX122. ISBN number 1-56299-023-3.
The collection is about 90 minutes and contains a lot of great stuff besides "Door," including Nick Park's academy award-winning "Creature Comforts," (which coincidentally features animals complaining about being trapped in a zoo, echoing Turtle Diary).
As far as I know, "Deadsy" is not currently available for sale in the US. (Please correct me if anyone out there knows differently!) Information on how to obtain the video for those in the UK, or anywhere else it's available, is welcome if anyone has it.
The short opens with a title card: DEADTIME STORIES FOR BIG FOLK. Next we see a strange sphere floating in space, the entire surface of which is covered with doors. As the narration begins, the doors begin opening and closing seemingly at random. Various objects emerge quickly from the doors and then retreat: mechanical arms, puppets on springs. We catch glimpses of glowing masks and clockwork inside the doors as the sphere revolves. Inside one door, a figure in a wheelchair bangs its head against a brick wall.
The story seems to be about a man and a woman who have a lot of doors and a lot of keys: "...they wuz alla time goin thru rong doors or uthers wuz lockt wich thay cudn fyn the kee. She wud say to him I thot you haddit an he wud say No you haddit I din havvit then thay wud havta try a nuther door..." They come across a key with a note reading "THIS IS THE WUN," and argue about what it means. The woman suggests that it means "the wun we berr not mess with," and that they should "takit slow and eesy;" echoing Riddley Walker's themes of forbidden knowledge, the man can't resist looking for the door the key fits when she's not looking.
Meanwhile the camera's eye has entered one of the doors; we move down a hallway through several white rooms filled with strange objects. A door at the end opens and we find ourselves in a realm of black-and-white photo collage in stop-motion animation; disturbing, classically surrealist scenes that evoke Magritte and Max Ernst. A swarm of sinister iron keys bore through a door and crawl down it. Pyramids, boxes and spheres dance under a strange sky. A 2-dimensional image of a man slithers down a staircase. In a courtyard, leaves swarm across a photograph of a shutting eye, while a man and a woman slap and shove each other in a photograph revolving on a stone pedestal. Before you know it, you hear the narrator saying something about the "end of snivvelyzashuns," and with a final stark image or two the film is suddenly over.
None of this really describes it of course; it's a genuine visual treat that simply has to be witnessed, and Mr. Hoban's evocative, disorienting text has to be heard in his own voice.
On "Deadsy": "Winner of many awards, including a Special Jury Prize at the 1990 Edinburgh Film and Television Festival. The film is a graphic interpretation of Russell Hoban's narration of man's fascination with weaponry and the sexual power of military aggression. Using a combination of live action, xerography, hand-rendering, laser xerography and model animation, DEADSY is a powerful and disturbing piece."
On "Door": "DOOR concerns man's relentless and impetuous curiosity and the results of his actions when he takes one step too far. It examines our ability to shut our eyes to what those results are, or may yet be. The film employs a mix of animation, pixillation in outdoor locations, animation of photographic images and xerography. Like DEADSY, it was written and narrated by Russell Hoban. Among many awards the film won are the Silver Mekeldi Award for Animation from the 1991 Bilbao Film Festival and the Best New British Animation Award at the 1991 Edinburgh International Film Festival."
Additional program notes: "In 1989 Anderson directed Deadsy, the first of two Russell Hoban scripts specially commissioned by Redwing for Channel Four. Deadsy won 'Best In Category' Awards at the 1990 festivals in Zagreb and Melbourne, together with a Special Jury Prize at the 1990 Edinburgh Film Festival. More recently, Deadsy was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Los Angeles Animation Celebration and won the Golden Plaque Award at the Chicago International Film Festival. In 1990 Anderson completed Door, the second of the Russell Hoban collaborations. Both films were premiered on British television in November 1990, together with a specially commissioned documentary examining the whole of the director's work and the particular techniques and ideas found in Deadsy and Door. Door won the Critics' Award at Annecy and was awarded the Prize for Best Animation Film at Melbourne in 1991. It was also winner of the Post Office's McLaren Award for Best New British Animation Film at the 1991 Edinburgh Film Festival."
FROM THE SCRIPT TO "DOOR":
Wel wun tym thay foun a key it hadda noat tyd to it the noat sed THIS IS THE WUN.
So she sed to him Wut do you think it meens THIS IS THE WUN?
He sed Wel this is sum kyna speshil thing you wun unnerstan it.
She sed I can unnerstan enny thing you can unnerstan.
He sed O yes youre the wun knows it all.
She sed may be you are may be youre the wun knows it all.
He sed may be I am. She sed Wel then tel me wuzzit meen THIS IS THE WUN? She sed THE WUN wut?
He sed Wel it meens wut it says THIS IS THE WUN.
She sed THE WUN wut?
He sed Wel its THE WUN wut is wut it is and she sed wut is it then?
Nevva myn he sed I am lookin inno it.
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