Kataku (1979)

Kihachiro Kawamoto is a pioneer in the neglected field of stop motion puppet animation. He takes inspiration from his fortuitous meeting with the Czech maestro Jiri Trinka and from the Russian Ladislaw Starewicz. He was impressed by how Trinka's and Strarewicz's puppets truly began to take on a life of their own. But today, Kawamoto's puppets are so beautiful and expressive he can't envy his masters.

Kawamoto turned to Japan's aesthetic traditions for his subject matter.
House of Flame is based on the Noh play ‘Motomezuka - the Seeker’s Mound’, which tells the story of a young woman named Unai-Otome who is loved by two men. Not knowing which to choose, in anguish, she chooses death. And although her intentions are pure, not even the grave brings the respite she longed for from her earthly dilemma.
The short is haunting and poetic, at the same time. It narrates of passion and loss.

House of Flame isn't a pure stop motion. It's melded with more conventional 2d techniques, such as the painted matte foregrounds of flames and water as the young maiden finds herself plunged into the very depths of hell itself, both masking out and balancing the colour composition across the frame.
You can buy The Exquisite Short Films of Kihachiro Kawamoto (1968-1979) and The Book of the Dead.

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