Feb 19, 2013

Enthusiasts Archive: Crushing, the Crushing Fruit


Zmiazdzenia owoc miazdzacy / Crushing, the Crushing Fruit (year unknown)

In this black and white four-minute short by Polish amateur film club AKF Cyklop, three bare hands travel around a table, "walking" on their index and middle fingers. They calmly go about their collective business, snatching up blank sheets of loose paper and arranging them in neat stacks as their tranquil life unfolds to an uplifting electronic score. Suddenly a new set of hands emerge, clad in tight black leather gloves and heralded by a sudden shift in the soundtrack to an ominous hard-driving synth theme. These hands goose-step in unison down the table, knocking over the carefully piled papers and flicking them about. In a final confrontation, the two sides engage in a hand-to-hand frenzy of groping. In the aftermath, naked hands rise into the air to melodramatic music; one of the hands soars highest and becomes abstract, a silhouette. The final shot returns to the harmonious state of the story's beginning, with the bare hands back at work, shuffling papers. There are only two hands in the shot now, though; perhaps the third hand has ascended?

The viewer quickly, effortlessly understands the hands as anthropomorphic synecdoche for human characters and struggle. There is a relatively clear narrative progression–from peace to conflict and then back to peace again after a moment of transcendence–that aligns with conventional dramatic expectations. The antagonists appear as the two poles of a Manichean struggle between good bare hands (orderly, productive, white) and evil gloved hands (chaotic, destructive, black), their moral polarity reinforced by starkly contrasting theme music. But maybe it's not that simple: the whimsical treatment of hands-as-humans and the frisson of excitement ignited by the arrival of the fascistic fingers (at last, some semblance of life in this sedate world!) complicate the picture.

The music is upset on occasion by distortion, and the video is marked by some jerky cutting matched with audio track skips that hint at possible damage to frames in the source film. Curiously, the metadata on Enthusiasts archive indicates that this film, directed by Piotr Moskala and Jerzy Müller, is an animation, while it is actually live action hand footage; the Internet Archive, meanwhile, mistakenly labels it a color film.

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