Puppet theater has a proud tradition throughout Europe, and the discipline’s fanciful sense of wonder comes through with enthusiasm in docu “Crimson Sails.” Accessible and consistently inventive item about the mounting of an elaborate and unique theater event will play well at fests and on the tube, with ancillary perhaps limited to more hard-core puppetry fans.
From fall 1999 through early 2001, the Prague-based Forman Brothers Theater (director Petr and principal artist Matej are Milos Forman’s sons) collaborated with France’s Cabaret Theater Dromesko to outfit a rusty, 70-foot barge dubbed the “Secret” and moored on the Vltava river into a floating playhouse that hosted puppet events. (Later, ship sailed the waterways of Europe dispensing puppetry to the people.) Show was culled from the writings and eponymous novel of peripatetic Russian author/adventurer Alexander Grin. The jubilant mix of puppets, actors, design styles and behind-the-scene antics is infectious, as is the obvious dedication to the craft. Tech credits are good, with a sense of mischievousness pervading pic’s style and tone. Vet helmer Miroslav Janek brought a similarly merry eye to 2001 Czech village docu “Battle for Life.”