Down the Yukon rabbit hole

If you think Tim Burton is weird, you haven't seen Jan Svankmajer. And if you haven't seen Svankmajer's films, you have the perfect opportunity on March 11.

If you think Tim Burton is weird, you haven’t seen Jan Svankmajer.

And if you haven’t seen Svankmajer’s films, you have the perfect opportunity on March 11.

On Thursday, Yukon’s Longest Night ensemble will perform a live musical score to a number of short films in their new show, Alice and Other Heroes.

The centrepiece is Svankmajer’s cult classic, Alice. It’s the acclaimed Czech filmmaker’s own twisted take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

By chance, the event coincides with the release of Burton’s remake of the Alice story. Svankmajer’s version, first released in 1988, will undoubtedly prove more dark and creepy.

A master of stop-motion, Svankmajer created a Wonderland inhabited by creatures largely made out of rubbish. The White Rabbit, for example, is a stuffed animal come alive with a hole in its chest, requiring it to eat sawdust to replenish itself.

Daniel Janke, Longest Night’s artistic director, stumbled on the film during a tour of the Czech Republic last summer. While there he encountered a film retrospective of Svankmajer’s work.

He was especially taken by Alice, and he noticed “it’s never been scored, so it was released without music.”

That’s where Whitehorse’s Longest Night ensemble come in. The score, written by Janke, ranges from “bombastic to gentle,” he said, and includes an eclectic mix of instruments: guitar, trumpet, marimba, percussion, violin, cello, piano and tuba.

Think of the event as a cross between a night at the movies and a night of live music. The project makes perfect sense to Janke, who splits his time making music and making films.

Most modern movies keep music relegated to the background. This performance won’t be so clear cut, he said.

“It’s like a simultaneous performance, the music pushes into the film a bit.”

A number of other short films are included in the show. They include Drift, another stop-motion film produced by Veronica Verkley, a Toronto artist who now lives in Dawson, and Legault’s Place, a National Film Board movie from the 1960s by John Spottan.

What ties the films together, according to Janke, is the idea of the hero – hence the performance’s title.

He uses the term loosely, in the same sense as Joseph Campbell, who, in his book A Hero with a Thousand Faces, proposed that myths across cultures follow many of the same patterns, or archetypes.

“The idea of the everyday hero is someone who rises to the occasion, whatever life gives or takes away,” said Janke.

“It’s the basis for great storytelling, I think. And that’s what this is, a collection of short stories. The difference is that it’s filmed with live music, and it kind of sparkles. There’s an energy in the room.”

You only have one shot to see the show in Whitehorse. Afterwards the performance will travel to Vancouver for two shows at Performance Works, as part the Paralympics, on March 17 and 18.

The Whitehorse show starts at 8 p.m. at the Yukon Arts Centre. Tickets are $22 for adults, $17 for children, students and elders.

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com.

Just Posted

Awaken Festival organizers Meredith Pritchard, Colin Wolf, Martin Nishikawa inside the Old Firehall in Whitehorse on May 11. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Performing arts fest plans to awaken artistic talent in Whitehorse and the rural North

‘A value of ours is to make theatre as accessible as possible.’

April Mikkelsen tosses a disc during a ladies only disc golf tournament at Solstice DiscGolfPark on May 8. John Tonin/Yukon News
Yukon sees its first-ever women’s disc golf tournament

The Professional Disc Golf Assocation had a global women’s event last weekend. In the Yukon, a women’s only tournament was held for the first time ever.

Dave Blottner, executive director at the Whitehorse Food Bank, said the food bank upped its services because of the pandemic. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Food Bank sees Yukoners’ generosity firsthand

“Businesses didn’t know if they could stay open but they were calling us to make sure we were able to stay open.”

Air North president Joe Sparling said the relaxing of self-isolation rules will be good for the business, but he still expects a slow summer. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News)
Air North president expects a slow summer

Air North president Joe Sparling suspects it will be a long time before things return to pre-pandemic times

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

A prescribed burn is seen from the lookout at Range Road and Whistle Bend Way in Whitehorse May 12. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Editorial: Are you ready for a forest fire?

Citizens for a Firesmart Whitehorse have listed some steps for Yukoners to boost safety and awareness

Caribou pass through the Dempster Highway area in their annual migration. A recent decision by the privacy commissioner has recommended the release of some caribou collar re-location data. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News)
Privacy commissioner recommends release of caribou location data

Department of Environment says consultation with its partners needed before it will consider release

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Most Read