“Fin de Siécle” is a beautiful and surreal animated short by Kathleen Quillian, using the kind of crude animation of cut-out illustrations and hand painted elements which is akin to the films of Martha Colburn and Janie Geiser. The subject of the film, roughly, is the obsessions with Spiritualism and the occult which was so common at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. This theme is explored in a story-less collage of images with a loose narrative feeling, which includes bees, butterflies, crystal balls, a telegraph machine, and magic rays made from strips of colored construction paper.
The sound score, by Gilbert Guerrero, combines processed guitar sounds with bells, wind and voices to create an appropriately creepy sense of drifting between different worlds. Quillian has a sharp eye for creating arresting, off balance visual compositions, and for using simple visual elements to create the sense of wonder and strangeness which permeate turn of the century writings on the occult and the longing to make contact with the supernatural.