Mad God

****

Reviewed by: Mateusz Tarwacki

Mad God
"At first glance, one can feel the enormous amount of work, heart and effort put into the completion of this epic animation."

The Tower of Babel. The image of the infinity of human pride and greed, and divine, merciless punishment: chaos, destruction and death. In an extraordinary stop-motion animation created over 30 years, Phil Tippet presents a world in which the eponymous Mad God has never forgiven humanity for its vanity. This God undoubtedly comes from the Old Testament, he is vindictive, unpredictable, more like an evil demigod than a merciful saviour. Or, as Tom Waits sang, "God's away on business," he just left people in the hell they made for themselves.

Mad God is an odyssey through human hell. This is The Divine Comedy but without a guide. There is no Virgil here who explains the world and leads us safely through the hell’s circles. Each subsequent Dante is exposed to mortal danger and, in the manner of a gloomy adventure game, the journey begins anew after each death.

The innovative animation technologies used in the film do not distract from the gruesome, brutal images. On the contrary, Tippet's dolls and monsters seem to be living a different life of their own that we are unable to fully understand. The ruthless cutting of bodies, the tearing out their fragments and modelling – the suffering of the dolls really seems real. The creator himself is like a mad god, for whom the animation has no limits – as if following Hieronymus Bosch's footsteps, creating an image of hell in the triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights.

The atmosphere full of fear and despair is reminiscent of the work of the Quay Brothers. But Tippet treats his children much more harshly. Mad God is not a work on the border of philosophy and religion, it is much closer to the judgment, to a commentary on the human condition, and even to a masochistic satisfaction with the work of destruction taking place before our eyes.

The director manages to pay tribute to all the semi-conscious fears and nightmares of the uncertainty of modern man's life. At first glance, one can feel the enormous amount of work, heart and effort put into the completion of this epic animation. Even if there is no deeper thought behind the images of ubiquitous violence and blood, it must be admitted that they were created by a master of imagination – and they truly are beautiful.

Even though the rescue does not come from either side, and the Mad God will never hear cries for help, the experience of Tippet’s animation is cathartic. To see animated fears on the screen is to face them. And then there's nothing to be afraid of any more.

Reviewed on: 06 Aug 2021
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Mad God packshot
An epic journey through all the layers of hell.

Director: Phil Tippett

Writer: Phil Tippett

Starring: Alex Cox, Niketa Roman, Satish Ratakonda, Harper Taylor, Brynn Taylor

Year: 2021

Runtime: 83 minutes

Country: US


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