Strings (2004, DEN/SWE/NOR/GBR) C-92m. SCOPE **** D: Anders Ronnow Klarlund. Starring (the voices of) James McAvoy, Catherine McCormack, Julian Glover, Derek Jacobi, Ian Hart, Claire Skinner, David Harewood, Samantha Bond. Beautiful, poetic fantasy drama set in a mystic kingdom of puppets, whose strings reach up into the heavens. After the suicide of the king, his son is deceived by his uncle into believing his father was murdered by the enemy, so he sets out to get his revenge, little-knowing that the man accompanying him has been ordered to kill him. Meanwhile, his sister becomes wooed by the evil army commander and his uncle is preparing for the throne. While it may take a while to get attuned to wooden puppets acting out a story, this easily manages to engross you, as it's superbly directed, with incredibly atmospheric, stylish cinematography and an excellent classical score. Philosophical plot is epic in its proportions, almost Shakespearean. Even the puppets have a hauntingly beautiful aura. A must-see, but a bit too dramatic for young children. Despite its extensive festival run, it remains too little known, may become a cult film. Movie references range from STAR WARS to LORD OF THE RINGS. From the director of BESAT (1999).

© Ron Altman