Short Film: ‘Harpya’ is a Bizarre Live-Action Cartoon

Why Watch? Peculiar, dreamlike and perfect for a Friday. This short film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1979, most likely after the entire jury was slipped acid tabs.

Raoul Servais‘ mustachioed story blends Belle Epoque with Vaudeville style to create the top layer of antique bliss, but the real magic comes from front projection techniques and a black velvet background. The effect is mesmerizing. Movement isn’t fluid, but it doesn’t feel as jerky as early stop-motion, so it lives in a middle ground that perpetually confuses the eye.

There’s also the fantastical nature of the tale itself — one where a man finds a bare-breasted Harpy in a fountain and takes her home only to find that she’s incredibly hungry. Partially horror and partially a surreal trip with pommes frites on the side, it’s the kind of metaphorical movie you can only watch with an eyebrow raised high.

What Will It Cost? About 8 minutes.

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A veteran of writing about movies for nearly a decade, Scott Beggs has been the Managing Editor of Film School Rejects since 2009. Despite speculation, he is not actually Walter Mathau's grandson. See? He can't even spell his name right.

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