SUMMARY: A depiction of the final ride into hell from ‘La Damnation de Faust’ by Hector Berlioz.
WHY IT’S HERE: Swiss animator Georges Schwizgebel’s ‘La Course a l’abime’ is an astonishing visual masterpiece in which two men on horseback, representing Faust & Mephistopheles, race against each other in a downwards spiral while a series of associative images appear around them. The painterly style and fascination with circular motion that characterised Schwizgebel’s earlier masterpiece ’78 Tours’ are both present but the thunderous operatic soundtrack is in sharp contrast with that film’s gentler accordion accompaniment. Although the more thoughtful, personal feeling of ’78 Tours’ makes it the more pleasurable of the two films in my opinion, the cataclysmic force of ‘La course a l’abime’ undoubtedly marks it out as another masterpiece. This is an utterly ravishing 5 minutes of animation and culminates in a spectacular moment in which every shot of animation used in the film can be seen on one screen. This heart-stopping piece really must be seen to be believed.