Monday, October 25, 2004

LEGO My Bat, Man

Just watched Jonathan Markiewitz's Batman LEGO Film, "Batman: Revenge", which (of course) I found out about through the ever-useful site.

You heard me right: it's an (almost-)all-LEGO version of the Caped Crusader, a silent animation that isn't as weird--or campy-- as it might sound. (Watching it, I thought a little of Todd Haynes' Superstar, which tells the story of Karen Carpenter entirely with Barbie dolls, and the films of the Brothers Quay and various other dark animator types.) While it relies a bit too heavily on Danny Elfman's music from the Tim Burton films to establish its mood (a common tendency in batfan films, I've noticed), the amount of detail is pretty impressive.

The use of Legos is particularly interesting because it calls attention to the childlike nature of the bat-legend, and gives it a surreal edge at the same time. I've been thinking a lot lately about Franklin Rosemont's book Surrealism and Its Popular Accomplices (City Lights, 1980), a terrific compendium of pop-culture artifacts which either influenced or were inspired by the Surrealist movement, drawing connections between Andre Breton, Dali, & company and comic books, pulp heroes, the Three Stooges, Tex Avery, & so on. I read the book about 20 years ago but it's been on my mind in recent months, as I've thought just how bizarre the bat-saga is: man puts on strange clothes (which don't really look that much like a bat) to fight criminals in the middle of the night. As a kid, it never seemed the least bit odd to me; I just kind of took the premise for granted. Now, however, it feels like a waking dream, a mass hallucination shared by millions of fans.

For that matter, I'd love to watch Georges Franju's film version of Judex again sometime, too--another conscious meditation on the overlap of Surrealism and the masked heroes of comicdom that I saw almost 25 years ago, before I could really appreciate it. No Legos in that one, but a similarly dreamlike quality.

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