Review: ‘Blood Tea and Red String’

Thirteen years in the making, Christiane Cegavske's very handmade stop-motion feature "Blood Tea and Red String" is an enigmatic, dialogue-free fairy tale few will think suitable for children -- though it's close in macabre spirit to the original versions of many classic fables.

Thirteen years in the making, Christiane Cegavske’s very handmade stop-motion feature “Blood Tea and Red String” is an enigmatic, dialogue-free fairy tale few will think suitable for children — though it’s close in macabre spirit to the original versions of many classic fables. Perfect midnight fare for animation-focused or otherwise adventuresome fests, pic should accrue a cult following among those already favorably disposed toward the bizarre worlds of Jan Svankmajer and the Brothers Quay.

Suggesting a David Lynchean fever dream on Beatrix Potter terrain, eccentric narrative sees four beaked, bear-like creatures, who live in an oak tree, create a female doll and place an egg in its “womb.” But as they sleep, three mice in fancy dress steal the doll from the oak where it is hanging crucifix-like style. They bring the doll to their own home where they get very drunk (on blood tea) and disorderly. Meanwhile the quasi-bears go off in search of their missing creation, en route having adventures that often turn druggy and hallucinatory. Often grotesque, though never in the “Sick and Twisted” juvenile gross-out mode, dreamlike feature is as lovingly crafted as it is unsettlingly sour-sweet, with Mark Growden’s avant-garde folk score in perfect synch.

Blood Tea and Red String

Production

A Christiane Cegavske production. Produced, directed, written, edited by Cegavske.

Crew

Camera (color, 16mm), Cegavske; music, Mark Growden; production designer, Cegavske. Reviewed at San Francisco Indiefest, Feb. 4, 2006. Running time: 69 MIN.

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