Monday Movie: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by David Bax
Stop-motion animation has been around nearly as long as cinema itself. Even so, Jiri Trnka’s 1959 version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream feels like a landmark for the form. That’s partially because it’s a feature length fully animated film from just before stop motion boomed in the 1960s. But it’s mostly because, even 60 years later, its beauty and grace is rare and disarming. There are various versions in different countries but the one I’ve seen contains no dialogue from any of the many characters, relying entirely on narration by Richard Burton. That only heightens the dreamlike quality that is already baked into William Shakespeare’s story. With soft focus, astoundingly fluid motion and bits of dream logic like a hurled spear turning into a bird and flying away, you may find yourself feeling at the end of it all as if you’ve just awaken like someone emerging from a fairy’s spell. It’s enchanting and too gossamer to even grab hold of. You’ll hope it’s a dream you don’t soon forget.