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Prometheus' Garden - animated DVD / arthouse DVD review
PROMETHEUS' GARDEN Unrated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Director: Bruce Bickford Distributor: Microcinema DVD
DVD release: 30 September 2008 Feature runtime: 58 minutes
(1 disc)
Format: Animated, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
DVD Features: Audio tracks (English), Commentary, Optional second score, "Luck of a Foghorn" documentary short

Bruce Bickford's Prometheus' Garden is a 28-minute clay animation film whose basic concept is that in Prometheus' garden, somewhere in the Caribbean, there is a soil that can be formed into a human shape. This shape will then come to life and be able to create more shapes that will also come to life. It's a stream-of-consciousness film, in a way, with all sorts of little people springing forth from the ground, running around, turning into monsters, attacking others. Fallen characters will seep into the ground from which something else will spring forth.

The narrative is a bit muddy, and for sure I didn't even really know what the action was about until I viewed it with commentary. Some sort of editing station turns into an aircraft carrier and makes occasional appearances. Women in a Viking sweat lodge smear Vaseline on themselves and become warriors. There's a torture chamber where large Vikings tear smaller characters apart with spears, tridents, and their bare hands. There are armed, uniformed mercenaries, cowboys, sportscaster Wayne Cody (!) - shifting shapes, hot red wax, roiling and morphing. It is amazing to see.

Although the narrative is nearly impossible to follow even with the commentary, Prometheus' Garden is interesting to watch and deserves to be seen. The animation is jumpy and imperfect: it's no Wallace and Gromit, but its imperfections add character. You'll never think that this stuff is alive, but the flow of consciousness of this clay is worth seeing.

As I said, there is a commentary track, and an optional second score by Laird Dixon. Also included is Luck of a Foghorn, a short film by documentarian Brett Ingram on Bruce Bickford and the making of Prometheus' Garden. If you're a fan of animation in general or clay animation in particular, check out the legendary Bickford's Prometheus' Garden.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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