Dimensional Animation

‘The Quays work in dimensional animation, which means that the spaces and objects they use to create their elliptical narratives are materials from our everyday world. They can circumvent and bend laws of space, perspective, and continuity to a greater degree….’ (Buchan, 2011, pg 45).

Spontaneity and Intuition

Within the Quays adaptation, an array of narrative techniques is visible. ‘Street of Crocodiles’ film is a presentation of ideas from Schulz rather than a direct adaptation. To formulate their narratives, the Quays rely on the relationship between the hands and the tangible object. The objects begin to inform the story and they lead the narrative rather than the opposite. The Quays only have a limited sense of the trajectory, they formulate a story through the re-arrangement of the objects and through intuition. Narratives start to unfold once the objects are imbued with life from the human hand; for example, when the screws start to untwist themselves from the ground they start to lead the narrative around the imagined space of the Quays.

(Tom Margett – The Animator as a Catalyst, 2017).


‘He [Svankmajer] is fascinated by the memories that physical objects contain by virtue of their enduring material existence.’ (Vasselen, 2009). A physical object is suggested to contain memories by existing and having a relationship between the user and itself. The pre-existing past of an object combines with this interplay to create a new function. For example the pins, in the Quay Brother’ ‘Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer’ become transporters for this cube instead of fastening materials together.

(Tom Margett – The Animator as a Catalyst, 2017).

Svankmajer and Materials

An example of the relationship between the animator and the material is through Jan Svankmajer’ work and in particular ‘Dimensions of Dialogue’ (1982). The film is split into three sections, ‘Exhaustive Discussion’‘Passionate Discourse’ and ‘Factual Conversation’‘Passionate Discourse’ is about a clay couple that merge and dissolve into each other, only to disown and destroy one another. Thumb prints and impressions are visible throughout this section of the film. Svankmajer combines his surrealist influences (previously explored) and his own imagination of dialogue onto clay faces, leaving his thoughts and emotions discernible.

(Tom Margett – The Animator as a Catalyst, 2017).

Frame Narration

Frame narration is where a story has multiple layers and individual stories are told within an over-arching narrative. Yuri Norstein’ ‘Tale of Tales’ (1979) is an example of frame narration and the animator using narrative as a catalyst. It structures itself like a human memory, stories are recalled by associations rather than chronological order. The film uses several recurring characters, a poet, a little girl playing jump-rope with a disheartened bull, a young boy feeding apples to crows, and a grey wolf. These recurring characters tell the story of Russian culture in the 20th century, the Soviet Union and the losses suffered in World War Two. Each scene propels and accelerates the story to form the associations of memory and imagination.

(Tom Margett – The Animator as a Catalyst, 2017).