Monkey Love Experiments


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Monkey Love Experiments
"Monkey Love Experiments uses a multitude of techniques to good effect."

Gandhi is a monkey, an adorable little stop-motion poppet. In a sterile cage he watches rockets on television, the moon out of a window. His only companion is a flannel-lined board at a 45 degree angle, two arms like those of a jeweller's helper, a face of sorts with two bright reflectors for eyes. Outside, unseen, a clipboard, ominous drawings, as yet unticked. Taking as its root the contemporaneous experiments of Harry Harlow, who "did some horrific things to prove we need love", and NASA "sending monkeys into space", filmmakers Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson have made something touching, albeit bleak. Mixing elements of live-action, computer graphics, and stop-motion, Monkey Love Experiments uses a multitude of techniques to good effect.

Little touches abound, like the focus on thumbs: "-up", for success; "-sucking", for youth; and opposable, for fellow-primate identification. A crisp black and white, the suggestion of blur on the titles all serve to date it too - but it's the simultaneous exploration of inner and outer spaces that really serves to put it in a place. The "grainy 4x3 look" was chosen to tie it to "exactly that time" as well.

In Q&A Ainslie confirmed that it was shot in part in the old small animals clinic hidden above the bar of the Summer Hall in Edinburgh. His description suggested it was creepy even before they recreated the "macabre pieces of theatre" that can be seen in Harlow's experiments, some of which can apparently be found on YouTube. The film itself is unsettling enough, the clipboard trauma checklists give some clues but the reality is likely to be more upsetting. As it stands, Will and Ainslie have created something that feels real, and genuinely moves - as an experiment it's more than a success.

Reviewed on: 16 Mar 2015
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A misguided monkey believes he is destined for the moon.

Director: Ainslie Henderson, Will Anderson

Writer: Will Anderson, Ainslie Henderson

Year: 2014

Runtime: 9 minutes

Country: UK

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