AW Kautzer's Film Review Fantasia Film Fest Film

Mad God – Fantasia Film Festival 2021


Decades in the making Mad God is the kind of visually stunning handcrafted work of art we rarely get nowadays. 

Starting with a Quote from Leviticus, writer/director/producer/animator Phil Tippett’s Mad God is a true descent into Hades.  We follow a masked figure as they make their way through the ruins of an apocalyptic wasteland.  Eventually, the figure descends into the depths of this world where we find all manner of nightmarish figures.  As this journey continues, we see that the mechanism, demons, beings, and structure of this hellish landscape is more than it appears.  It is only after we reach the lowest depths do we find what this all possibly means.  

Rarely are we treated to true cinematic art that defies narrative convention.  Often art is compromised for the sake of commerce.  Or the art is not refined or articulately complex, done by masters in their field.  It is primarily someone testing the waters and boundaries not having the skills required to truly understand what the boundaries are and how to break them.  Phil Tippet understands these barriers and with Mad God not only pushes them but successfully creates something more than just an empty piece of art. 

More than thirty years in the making Tippett’s film is garish and grotesque in its magnificent beauty.  Mad God isn’t meant to be dissected or understood fully in your first viewing, it is purposely dense and filled with an almost indecipherable amount of information.  Frames are not just filled with empty meaningless movement.  Everything in the film is purposeful.  Tippet and the small crew of dedicated actors, animators, designers, sound technicians overwhelm the film with so much that your only choice is to surrender to it.  

Mad God is the kind of cinema that is becoming rarer and rarer in this age of studio-produced happy product, sometimes upsetting, and incomprehensible visual work of art.  One that challenges the viewer to return to its majesty and horrors.  

Mad God played Fantasia Film Festival on August 22nd with an encore on August 24th

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