Topic: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

This week’s Brickfilm of the Week is The Gauntlet by Jay Silver.

The Gauntlet follows the story of an imprisoned man who attempts to escape the lair of an evil wizard. It was made in 2001 and was originally conceived to be an entry into the Classical Movie Contest on Brickfilms.com, but it was not finished in time. Jay Silver, a Canadian brickfilmer, has been a staple member of the brickfilming community since 2001, and is appearing in the Bricks in Motion documentary. The Gauntlet was Jay Silver’s first released brickfilm, and he also made Rise of the Empire, Rapunzel, and The Journey, which recently won the Bricks in Motion Celebration Contest.

Watch The Gauntlet on The Brickfilm Archive

http://i.imgur.com/iX6v4lN.png

SPOILERY DISCUSSION BELOW!

The Gauntlet is a testament to the power of storytelling through music instead of dialog. Set to “In The Hall of the Mountain King,” The Gauntlet takes us through a dramatic escape attempt, starting with the jailbreak and ending climatically with a narrow escape into the wilderness. This film made a splash in 2001, thanks to its expansive sets and memorable animation (note especially the slide at 2:23), and is still frequently brought up today. The Gauntlet does not just have music playing in the background, it weaves the story around the music. The film starts off quiet, no music, just the sounds of creaking wood and breaking chains. Then, as the prisoner explores, the first few quiet notes rise up. Then, as the golem approaches, the music swells and crescendos when the prisoner spots the golem. This makes the music an integral part to the film, (and unfortunately is the reason the film isn’t available on YouTube).

What are your thoughts on The Gauntlet? What did you like about it? Did you have a favorite moment? What do you think about the integration of music and story?

Last edited by Nathan Wells (January 16, 2015 (09:13am))

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

This might be brickfilming's Citizen Kane moment. For a bit of additional history, this would be the eventual winner of the Classical Music Contest for which The Gauntlet was originally made for. Not to knock Stefan van Zwam or his film (he is become a remarkably talented brickfilmer), but the differences in production quality is quite evident.

On a personal note, the scene of the golem turning the corner into frame right as the song reaches its peak still gives me goosebumps.

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

@MindGame: The Barber of Seville is still a wonderful, charming film that is worth the watch. It would be more representative of what the average brickfilm might have looked like in 2001, which of course indicates just how much The Gauntlet would have demolished the standards of the time.

The Gauntlet is a timeless classic and is still impressive today. I'm still amazed by the scale of the sets and the feeling created by the chase scene and music. The golem coming around the corner as the music rises has got to be one of the greatest shots in a brickfilm. I also always thought it was funny how in such a serious moment, the first thing the main character does is hurl a stick at his pursuer. This film is a true masterpiece and remains one of the first that comes to mind when I think about the best brickfilms ever.

Last edited by Penta (January 16, 2015 (11:07am))

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

The music is Classical, and over 100 years old, so shouldn't it really be royalty-free?

Either way, I do remember watching The Gauntlet some time back, but it's only just now that I re-watched it and realised how truly amazing this film is.  The quality might be grainy, yes, and the sets perhaps a tad simplistic (with the exception of the Golem) but everything else--the animation, the cinematography and music selection are fantastic.  It manages to tell a complete and rounded story with nary a single word spoken, using the music and cinematography to convey its narrative instead--and is all the stronger for it.  I especially love the use of fairly unusual (in Brickfilming, at least) camera angles and editing style (I especially love the shots with the statues/ornaments dirtying the frame, the close-ups, and the overhead shot of the chandelier) to make the film flow and build tension.  It feels professional and polished, really elevating The Gauntlet to something special.  The opening shot of the trapdoor and single window actually reminds me a lot of the Tomb in Moria from Lord of the Rings.  The special effects, such as the green sparks, also look remarkably good, although it might be a bit difficult to tell with the quality.  The bit where the Golem comes alive, the man looks over his shoulder, and the music crescendos sends chills down my spine.

The Gauntlet is resounding proof you don't need a fancy camera or pristine HD or 4K to effectively tell a story. It's a shame that this isn't available on YouTube.  This film should be required viewing for every Brickfilmer.

Last edited by Mr Vertigo (January 16, 2015 (11:04am))

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Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

Mr Vertigo wrote:

The music is Classical, and over 100 years old, so shouldn't it really be royalty-free?

The original composition is in the public domain, but the recording of this particular's orchestra performance is almost definitely still owned by the orchestra or recording label.

MindGame has pointed me towards a YouTube version of The Gauntlet:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xP3PpQtR26k

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

This is fantastic! I love to see simple concepts like this, and the execution here is just phenomenal. The cinematography highly impressed me right from the first shot, and the large sets have a really epic scope; I especially love how the Golem rushes straight through the bridge that runs between the walls. The music is perfectly fitting to the action and allows for very entertaining editing as well.

It's great how an impressive brickfilm from 2001 can still be very impressive in 2015. This is just a highly inspirational brickfilm for me, and I'll have to rewatch it more times, but it's probably becoming one of my favorites. Great find!

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Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

Wow, it's been ages since I have seen this and it is still impressive, I'm actually kind of surprised I never remember those old web cameras distorting and bending the edges of things back then, but while the technology has come a long ways the animation stands the test of time.

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

Wow. That was great! I had never seen that before either. I have always considered Jay Silver to be a really groundbreaking brickfilmer and this even more completely solidifies that feeling.

From the very opening shot I knew this was a cut above most brickfilms from that time (or currently, really). Pretty much everything about the The Gauntlet is impressive. Fabulous use of music paired with visuals to tell a story. This instantly became one my favorite classic brickfilms.

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

MindGame wrote:

This might be brickfilming's Citizen Kane...

I 100% agree, MindGame.

The Gauntlet has always been one of my favorite brickfilms. It's limited dialogue doesn't stand out, and, the film really flows. It's a great watching experience that's had me pause to look at the frame by frame several many times.

From the glow of the fire to the stillness of the drapes to the ambitious running over sand part, this brickfilm's really got it all. The intensity, just like the music, builds as time goes on, giving the film the perfect building drive for intensity.

The animation, while not technically perfect, does seem to break away from any norms or cycles, giving the characters and action a rustic, jumpy, and more realistic look. And, as mentioned above, the fact that the drapes don't move as the antagonist walks by is spectacular... Most brickfilmers, or even professional animators, would shy away from such a tasks, as, it would be so easy to bump the cloth with your hands while animating. However, that's not the case here! I don't know how Jay Silver did it, but, whatever he did, I'd love to know. mini/tongue

The sets, though pretty dull looking, actually benefit the film, giving it a certain "cave like" feel. The atmosphere is dark, and, this really gives the whole thing a more "thriller" edge. Our main character obviously had been imprisoned, but, for what reason? - This question seems to be just as unanswered as the large walls and giant rock creature - it's just there.

Overall, this is a great example of what a "first brickfilm" can be. It's got heart, which, a lot of films lack. It certainly is one of the greatest brickfilms ever made. - and for good reason. The Gauntlet really is a testament to how the whole is better than the sum of it's parts. Though animation, set design, and other certain elements aren't spot-on perfect, the overall experience is.

I'd love to see more brickfilmers make gems like this one!

https://i.imgur.com/sgjYd2b.png

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

This was probably the most mentioned brickfilm in the Bricks in Motion interviews so far. A highly influential classic!

http://i.imgur.com/wcmcdmf.png

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

I've never seen this classic. I'm very impressed, thanks for sharing this one. The music fits incredibly well and all the sets, VFX, lighting are really well achieved. The way in which the protagonist appears and the intervention of the giant are fabulous!

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8545/28902888022_9f0ab167b0_m.jpg

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

Probably the first brickfilm I saw where I realised brickfilming could make something really great, everything I had seen before had been cartoonlike and fun yet unremarkable but when I saw this I was blown away it's up there with The Magic Portal.

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

I had never seen this film until yesterday. This is wonderful. The music, the story, the animation, the fact that it does not rely on dialogue to make the story, the classic feel of it, the spectacular scale of it. Everything about it.

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Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

I know it's not on-topic, but I perfer the new "Featured Articles" category over "news".  Good idea.

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Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

This has always been one of my favorite brickfilms. I haven't watched it in a while due to YouTube removing it.

I really enjoyed viewing it again. I forgot how well Jay composed his shots. MindGame's "Citizen Kane" comparison is very accurate.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8625/16037138950_5eeda635ce_o.png

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

Can I just say that I love the shot from behind the suit of armor? It really sells the idea that he's being watched. Pretty much everything else has already been said. I will agree that the shot of the golem rounding the corner is probably one of the most memorable shots in brickfilming history.

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Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

Littlebrick wrote:

Can I just say that I love the shot from behind the suit of armor? It really sells the idea that he's being watched.

Agreed. That, along with the shot of the lionhead statue looking down on the prisoner, make the whole environment feel so dangerous and uninviting. Really, the entire atmosphere that this film creates is pretty superb.

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

Jay still had the golem intact and talked a little about it in our interview for the documentary!

It also has a cameo in the teaser trailer.

http://i.imgur.com/IopaVkj.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/wcmcdmf.png

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

I hadn't seen the Gauntlet until relatively recently when I think either Walter mentioned it or I might have been just looking at Walter's favourites list.  I forgot which.

Excellent use of Hall of the Mountain King.

Re: Brickfilm of the Week: The Gauntlet (Jan 16, 2015)

Thanks for the kind words, folks! I hope to one day to create something equally worthy and share with you. Fingers crossed!