TIFF 2017. Shadows Shorts. Review of “The Clockmaker’s Dream” by Cashell Horgan

“Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?” Irish animation and stop motion artist Cashell Horgan’s “The Clockmaker’s Dream” fantasy short begs to answer this troublesome question. After having successfully toured the (genre) film festival circuit, it was screened in the Shadow Shorts Competition program at this year’s Transilvania International Film Festival.

A Clockmaker is entrusted to care for a world that runs like clockwork. But, when his heart gets broken by the death of his wife, he rages against time itself only to discover that unless he finds a cure for a broken heart, everything will end. The clockmaker thus tries desperately to find it…

Originally set for stop motion, “The Clockmaker’s Dream” has eventually evolved into a live action short film. Combining techniques in mask theater and silent films, Horgan manages to beautifully and masterfully create an idiosyncratic universe of puppet-like creations, in a comical yet also somewhat dark world. It is an inventive, sensitive, heart-warming, even comic blend of punk, gothic horror, animation, fantasy and art. Horgan’s characters are figures who are simulating living beings and represent people who may live in a small town; these are, in fact, fantastical, turn-of-the century toys. Horgan takes his inspiration for them in tin toys, dolls and costumes of the 19th Century as well as traditional masks of Northern Europe and photographs of homemade Halloween costumes from the 1920s to the 1950s. With them, he counterpoises a classical setting for a more modern microcosm for the machines and automata. This modern and classic mix suggests that the town’s inhabitants have been there for a long time.

This has been rendered rather spectacularly thanks to the superb production values with a production design that is set in the early 19th Century and echoes a kind of Jules Verne world of magic and fantasy, after a storyboard made by Ian McCaffrey whose credits include the hit TV series “Penny Dreadful”. These include the papier-mâché masks made by Irish puppeteer Emma Fisher and local art students in Limerick; the costumes designed and manufactured by Limerick fashion designer Tatsiana Coquerel who was inspired by her passion for dolls, something that fitted perfectly Horgan’s concept for the film. The Clockmaker’s mask was made by the clay designer Kamil Krawczak from Order 66 Creatures and Effects and inspired by the “Man of la Mancha” character. This truly unique and imaginary world was brought to life by Mark Waldon’s keen eye and alluring cinematography that makes us hop into a time machine. Another exceptional feat that sets “The Clockmaker’s Dream” is its narration by the remarkable Jared Harris.

Moreover, “The Clockmaker’s Dream” was selected in a script competition and awarded part funding by Limerick City of Culture in 2014. Now that it is completed, it is one of the film legacy projects intended to promote Limerick as a filming destination in Ireland and part of the Limerick city’s bid for European Capital of Culture 2020. The fact that this short was made by almost all Irish cast and crew highlights the promotion, importance and strength of the current Irish film industry, especially in the short-format field.

“The Clockmaker’s Dream” is a wonderful, smartly and deftly imagined and created short film that crosses realms between reality and imagination, dreams and nightmares and shows us that love makes the world go round – not money…





Production: Made Image (Ireland, 2015)

Executive producer: Ronan Cassidy

Producers: Cashell Horgan, Linhong Yang

Associate producer: Emma Owen

Director: Cashell Horgan

Screenplay: Cashel Horgan

Cinematography: Mark Waldron

Music: Michael Edwards

Production Design: Ger Wallace

Costume design: Tatsiana Coquerel

Cast: Jared Harris, Joe Mullins, Jennifer Meade, Lucy Dawson, Johanna O’Brien, Conor O’Brien, David Collins

 Color – 20 min.

Premiere: 10/10/2015 (IndieCork Film Festival)

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