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Year: 2005
USA: Zeitgeist Films
UK: Artificial Eye
Cast: Amira Casar, Gottfried John, Assumpta Serna, Cesar Sarachu, Ljubisa Gruicic
Directors: Stephen Quay, Timothy Quay
Countries: UK / Germany / France
USA & UK: 99 mins
UK Certificate: 12A contains moderate sex references
USA Release Date: 1 December 2006 (Limited Release - Los Angeles)
USA Release Date: 17 November 2006 (Limited Release - New York)
UK Release Date: 17 February 2006
US Distributor
UK Distributor


The Quay Brothers return for only their second feature in ten years, (the first being their debut feature INSTITUTE BENJAMENTA). THE PIANO TUNER OF EARTHQUAKES is a richly woven fairytale, full of cultural references which aims to create something like poetic science fiction.

Beautiful opera singer and bride-to-be Malvina Van Stille (Amira Casar) is killed and abducted away from her fiance, a famous conductor, and taken to a fantasy island ruled by the malevolent Dr Droz (Gottfried John).

The piano tuner Filiberto (Cesar Sarachu) arrives to repair Droz's strange collection of automata, he bears an uncanny resemblance to Malvina's fiance. Passions and memories are stirred in the living dead Malvina and Filiberto tries to rescue her, but Droz has plans to include Filiberto in his plans....

From the directors

"We aimed for all the genuine archetypes: The mad composer-scientist with demiurgic powers, the secluded Villas on an earthquaked island, seven automata, seven days, a hapless and doomed opera singer, a violent abduction, the forlorn lover, a piano tuner who resembled the forlorn lover, and a grotesque operatic finale."

"While writing the script we discovered by chance the quote by Sallust: 'These Things Never Happen but are always' circa 86-34BC, which seemed to give us a secret passageway into a world of impossibilities made tangible. One which could embrace a range of varying genres: poetic science fiction, the mystery story, the fantastic, even the fairy tale, - a Bluebeard-like castle buried in the deepest of forests."

"The film became very clearly an allegory about madness and obsession set in an allusive, phantom universe, and naturally we wanted to rely powerfully on the visuals, and on the music and sound. "

The Brothers Quay have always used dolls and automaton figures and this film is haunted by Droz's mechanical creations...

"With this film we wanted to incorporate more animation and we did this by creating Droz's Automata (mechanical tableaux vivants which worked by hydraulics and in function with the tides.) It allowed us to create intense miniature worlds lodges within larger worlds - forests within forests as it were."

"The reference for the film was Boecklin's 'Isle of the Dead' with its great dark cypress trees, and in the foreground, below, the shrouded passenger being rowed to his final resting place. To this we coupled Magritte's 'Empire of Light' where it is simultaneously day above and night below. As well, an enchanting fresco on the wall of the Villa depicting the 1755 earthquake and which already seemed to foretell the events that will happen."

Quotes by: The Brothers Quay

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