Kolmnurk (The Triangle): delightfully surreal film about a husband, his wife and her midget lover

Priit Pärn, “Kolmnurk (The Triangle)” (1982)

Yet another delightful animation short from this Estonian animator back in the 1980s and thankfully for a non-Estonian speaker like me, the cartoon features no dialogue apart from the characters calling out one another’s names. Viktor and Julia have been married for some time and the couple seem stuck in a rut: Viktor waits for dinner, reading his newspaper, while Julia makes breakfast, lunch and dinner for him. The relationship clearly is very one-sided: Julia’s emotional and sexual needs are going unmet while Viktor and his tummy are doing very well out of the marriage. Unexpectedly, a little door opens up at the bottom of the stove and out pops Lilliputian-sized Eduard, a suave Latin-lover type, attracted by the smell of Julia’s cooking, who jumps up onto the kitchen bench and eats all the cooked food. Julia patiently cooks more and Eduard gulps it all down. Viktor, enraged at his wife’s acquiescence to Eduard’s amorous attentions to the food, leaves home and Eduard takes his place at the table and newspaper. Viktor later relents and returns to his wife. They reconcile and Eduard skulks back home where his wife Veronika has been waiting; the two take up their appointed places at table with newspaper and stove respectively.

There’s no obvious moral which is perhaps one reason Soviet government censors at the time of the short’s release didn’t take too kindly to the film and limited its cinematic release. The film probably says something about the uneven relationships between men and women in marriage at the time. (I have seen some reviews suggesting that Julia symbolises Estonian land and resources and Eduard represents a rapacious Soviet Union; I hope the creators abhor such racist / white supremacist insinuations.) The animation style is based on pencil drawings and looks superficially simple and straightforward but it’s definitely not a film for children: the animation uses a lot of cut-outs of faces, eyes and sensuous lips to hint at Viktor and Julia’s sexual yearnings and unmet needs, and Julia’s body with its ample breasts also is the focus of Eduard and Viktor’s attentions later in the film. There is much surrealism in the film as well: cooking flavours travel far through the country, Eduard morphs into a necklace for Julia and Viktor floats through the air while running away from home.

The black humour, the deliberately crude, pencil-drawn animation style, whimsical story and surrealistic dream elements make this film a worthy one to watch for animation students.

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