Who knows why founding Beat poet and professional reprobate William S. Burroughs chose to fixate on the minor Mayan death god Ah Puch (which he spelled “Ah Pook” probably because it sounds like a dirty phrase in his native Midwestern dialect), but once he did, Ah Pook was resurrected from his sojourn in Limbo and elevated to the Pantheon of immortals, thanks to this bizarre prose poem, now immortalized as an unforgettable, gruesome, beautiful, award-winning animated film.
Ladies and gentlemen, brace yourselves. Ah Pook is here.
AH POOK IS HERE – This 1994 stop-frame interpretation of recordings by the late William S. Burroughs, was crafted around a selection of tracks from the album “Dead City Radio” produced by Hal Willner & Nelson Lyon – and featuring music by John Cale.
AH POOK received Ten international film awards, was archived in the Goethe institute, and was part of the Burroughs retrospective PORTS OF ENTRY. AH POOK was also voted ‘BEST OF THE BEST’ at the 2010 Stuttgart International Trickfilm festival.
The Guardian review:
“Phillip Hunt’s gorgeous, grisly animation mates William Burroughs’s gravelly narration of Ah Pook The Destroyer’s death-dealing parable with music by John Cale at his creepiest. Hunt’s deliberate and disgusting illustrations of Burrough’s monsters of the mind are a revelation; delicately articulated puppets riddled with revolting detail. Turn down the lights, get out the headphones, and give yourself over to The Master’s ghastly visions and sonorous warnings (“The world cannot be controlled, except by accident”) for six gut-churning minutes.”
-Kate Stables / The Guardian
Director Philip Hunt
Producer Eddel Beck
Music Hal Wilner & John Cale
Produced at the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg
Distributor BFI & The British Council
PS (still reading? eh?)
You might like the following story ( spoiler alert!):
The final scene of the film is an unbroken take wherein Pook puts the gun in his mouth and we pull back until we hear a gunshot and see a red flash, cutting back into the stars… and the spirit of Pook intoning ‘falling in Love again’ among the Heavens…
The original intention was to pull the camera all the way back a good respectful distance and show Pook’s body flinch backward etc.. But we had a small problem while shooting. Now, back in the day (‘94) we did this part on film and in-camera without video assist etc. and the entire sequence was one continuous camera track made frame by frame …all adjusted incrementally by hand.
When we were nearing the end of the shot we realised the focus had messed up & we were shooting blur. We had no way of knowing how long we had been shooting blur either.. The simple shot had taken us all day to shoot due to the awkward nature of the set up and we despondently wrapped for the day and sent the film off for processing ( a 2 day turnaround due to the location we shot in at that time). Now, the films audio was pre edited, the master mix already had the gunshot set as part of the audio track. So, after 2 days we got the processed rushes back & synched them up to the audio and played out to see how much of the animation had been captured before the accidental focus pull screwed it all up…
By some bizarre co-incidence.. The moment of blur synched up EXACTLY with the gunshot.. And so that’s how we left it.
Still freaks me out even now…