Monday, 16 December 2013



12. PANIQUE AU VILLAGE (A TOWN CALLED PANIC) (2010, dir. Stéphane Aubier & Vincent Patar)


Rarely do I use my space here to simply say, "you should watch this film," but that is what I am going to do here.

Imagine if Terry Gilliam used childhood toys to animate the inserts on "Monty Python's Flying Circus," and you would then get an idea of the manic energy created by this film. Based on a series produced for television in 2000, made in Belgium and supported by Aardman Animations, "A Town Called Panic" is the story of three characters, named, Cowboy, Indian and Horse, looking like they have come from a place where farmyard toy sets, Subbuteo figurines and the prizes in cornflake boxes meet. The landscape is like an acid-infused fantasy that combines the French countryside with a model train set. The series inspired the Cravendale Milk advertisements of a few years back, both inspired by, and made using sets and models from the series.

Taking what started as twenty 5-minute shorts, and expanding to the nth degree in a 74-minute feature, what began as Cowboy and Indian making a barbecue out of bricks for Horse's birthday turns to disaster when an intended order for fifty bricks is turned, by a slipped computer key, into fifty million bricks. The resulting pile destroys their home, but when the bricks are used to reconstruct the house, the walls are stolen by sea creatures, leading to a journey through frozen wastelands to the bottom of the sea to get their house back. All the while, Horse is distracted from his piano lessons with his true love...

It takes longer than 74 minutes to watch this film, deluged as it is with strange, infectious invention, such as a scene where cows are fired at another house besieged by the sea creatures, surrounded with a wall of cuttlefish; a fire in one scene travels through a telephone and sets fire to the room at the other end; and another character, farmer Steven, suspends himself upside down, in mid air, to motor through a sandwich like was bacteria, before smashing through a mug of coffee. You cannot let yourself blink, or breathe, for fear of missing anything.

Right now, Amazon are selling this film for £5.50 on DVD, so nothing is really stopping you from taking a look. It all depends whether you want a film to take you by the hand, or grab you by the leg... 

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