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“The doll character had been working its way into my drawings since 1990. A lot of these things evolved from drawings. The drawing is coming from the subconscious, really, so you don’t really know why, or say ‘why am I drawing it’?”–Christiane Cegavske on the DVD commentary to Blood Tea and Red String
DIRECTED BY: Christiane Cegavske
FEATURING: With one minor exception, all characters are silent animated puppets
PLOT: A group of aristocratic white mice commission rodentlike creatures with beaks (called the “Creatures Who Dwell Under the Oak”) to create a doll for them, but once the puppet is fashioned the Creatures refuse to give it up; instead, they revere it and sew an egg they find floating in a creek inside its torso. The mice steal the doll and take it to their lair, so the Creatures set out on a journey to recover it. Along the way they meet a frog sorcerer and a spider with a human face, and everything changes when the egg inside the doll hatches.
- The film took 13 years to make, with Cegavske animating perhaps 10 seconds a day. Many of the models and effects used show up in the director’s 1992 short Blood and Sunflowers.
- Cegavske intends for Blood Tea and Red String to be part of a trilogy, and in 2011 she announced the second part of the project, titled Seed in the Sand. She estimates this installment will take five years to complete.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Blood Tea is bizarre throughout, and many will be attracted to the psychedelic splashiness of the sequence where the Oak Dwellers eat hallucinogenic berries and see morphing pink and green leaf patterns overlaid on the courtyard garden. For my money, though, things are at the weirdest when we climb inside the dark mouse hole and watch the well-dressed vermin pour bloody tea onto the lips of the lifeless doll while their skull-headed pet raven looks on.
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: A dialogue-free stop-motion animated fable done in the style of Jan Svankmajer, but with a darkly feminine spin, Blood Tea and Red String gently folds surrealism into its fairy tale structure to create a weirdly compelling world. It’s an inverted Alice, told from the perspective of mutant rodents, depraved white mice, and mystical frogs.
Original trailer for Blood Tea and Red String
COMMENTS: Artist Christiane Cegavske had been living with the haunting creatures of Blood Continue reading 103. BLOOD TEA AND RED STRING (2006)