SUMMARY: A woman falls in love with a Buddhist monk but when he spurns her advances, she transforms herself into a serpent to wreak a terrible revenge.
WHY IT’S HERE: Japanese animator Kinachiro Kawamoto was mentored by Czech animation legend Jiri Trnka and it shows both in stylistic technique and quality in the brilliant ‘Dojoji Temple’. Based on a 19th century Kabuki play, it tells the chilling story of a woman who becomes obsessed with a Buddhist monk, relentlessly pursuing him despite his pointed rejections. The monk’s dedication to Buddhism is tested by her relentless and eventually murderous pursuit the tale winds up tragically for all concerned. Kawamoto’s superb, eerie puppets recall the fixed expressions of Trnka’s creations but are instilled with a greater sense of foreboding in their troubled expressions. Kawamoto style is also notable for its combination of stop motion puppets against painted backgrounds, which works marvellously. The backgrounds are not lush, realistic representations but rather suggestive brush-sketches that evoke 19th century Japanese art and provide the tale with a real sense of time and place.