Following is a review of today's screening in the Los Angeles Animation Celebration:
"Krysar" (The Pied Piper), (Czechoslovakia, 1987) Nuart Theater, 5:30 p.m. 50 minutes.
This eerie, stop-motion version of the familiar story of the Pied Piper focuses on the greed and gluttony of the burghers of Hamelin, rather than on the miraculous delivery of the city from a plague of rats.
The angular designs of the puppets are more interesting thantheir movements: The faceted, cruel faces seem to embody the sins of the flesh. Swathed in hooded leather cloak, the Piper looks more like the Grim Reaper than a traveling musician. His macabre appearance presages his actions. When the burghers refuse to pay him, he calmly turns them into rats and leads them to their deaths.
At 50 minutes, the film seems a bit long. The pace is slow, and the audience sees the inexorable mechanism of the Hamelin town clock too many times. But director Jiri Barta creates a mood as dark and unsettling as an Edgar Allan Poe story. "The Pied Piper" is not easily forgotten.