Most of the animated films that GKIDS acquires for distribution have undeniable artistic merit, but its latest pick-up, The Girl Without Hands (La Jeune fille sans mains), might be among its most experimental and adult acquisitions, pushing the envelope for the type of animation that the already-daring distributor has made available to American cinemagoers.
Written and directed by French filmmaker Sébastien Laudenbach, the 76-minute feature is an adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairytale about a girl sold to the devil by her father, who ends up having her hands cut off. The film uses a distinctively uncompromising and sophisticated graphic style, more common to short films than features, emphasizing line drawing over rendered figures. Facial features are suggested with spare brushstrokes, and figures are often drawn incomplete (though it all makes perfect sense when the drawings are viewed in motion). To get a sense of how unconventional the film’s style is, just take a look at these four consecutive drawings of the main character:
“The film has an utterly transporting beauty and poetry, while the story unfolds with the powerful dream logic of a fairytale, taking you into the darker, deeper, primal origins and emotional core of the Grimm’s tales,” said GKIDS co-founder Eric Beckman. “With magic and cruelty, sublime beauty and tenderness, The Girl Without Hands is at once timeless and unlike anything you have seen before, a stunning example of the potential of the medium of animation as a powerful cinematic art form for adult moviegoers.”