Disasterpiece Theater is back! On Thursday, October 19th at 5pm, we revive Disasterpiece Theater with Princely Toys (PG). Princely Toys is a BBC documentary from 1976. It explores the subject of automatons; antique animated dolls manufactured for the upper classes of the 19th century. This is geared towards upper elementary/middle school aged youth
From the Internet:
“Princely Toys is a BBC documentary from 1976. It explores the subject of automatons; antique animated dolls manufactured for the upper classes of the 19th century. The film centers around the collection of a man named Jack Donovan, but primarily focuses on the automatons themselves. The narrator talks in an odd cryptic fashion as the aged VHS footage ushers you into the yesterworld of monkey-masked musicians, half-human harlequins and other abominations from your childhood nightmares. Many toys have their own segment and an in-depth explanation is given by the narrator.
He describes the toys in detail as the film zooms in on their unforgiving mechanical eyes darting about as their stiff little limbs jerk and sway to the sounds of antique music boxes perfectly tuned to conjure demons from beyond. Most of the footage is shot in an empty studio with a minimal amount of lighting to give the viewer the illusion that each toy was filmed in it’s own personal abyss of darkness. Putting aside the creepy overtones (did I mention that one of the dolls is a man hacking a woman’s bloody torso with a butcher knife?) it’s amazing how intricate and detailed the dolls’ movements are and it’s hard to believe that their animation comes from tiny hidden gears and other simple machines”