364. Monkey’s Teeth – Rene Laloux

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SUMMARY: A surrealist nightmare about an evil dentist, based on the drawings of patients from a psychiatric clinic.

WHY IT’S HERE: French director Rene Laloux, who went on to make such acclaimed feature animations as ‘Fantastic Planet’ and ‘Time Masters’, was working in a psychiatric institution when he made this early short. The story and design was created in collaboration with the patients of the institution, although it’s surrealist, melancholy style is in keeping with many experimental films of the time. The story of a dentist who steals the teeth of his poorer clients, ‘Monkey’s Teeth’ features all kind of strange plot twists, some of which seem symbolic and others of which just seem randomly generated. The bicycling monkey who appears throughout the film in the background ultimately proves to be crucial to the plot, having seemed like just a surrealist appendage for most of the runtime. Laloux has crafted a fascinating, nightmarish short out of the psychiatric patients ideas and its simple, sketchy design, slow-moving pace and green faced main character immediately bring to mind David Firth’s brilliantly freakish internet cartoon series ‘Salad Fingers’ from several decades later.

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