The ErlKing (film)

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The ErlKing
The Erlking poster.jpg
ErlKing film poster
Directed by Ben Zelkowicz
Produced by Ben Zelkowicz
Written by Ben Zelkowicz
Screenplay by Ben Zelkowicz
Based on Der Erlkönig (poem) 
by Johann Wolfgang Goethe
Music by
  • Composeer: Franz Schubert
  • Pianist: Peter Miyamoto
  • Baritone: Paul Berkolds
Distributed by National Film Board of Canada
Release date(s)
Running time 6 minutes
Country United States
  • Titles: English
  • Song: German

The ErlKing is a 2002 animated short by Ben Zelkowicz, which uses sand animation to illustrate Franz Schubert's musical adaptation of the poem Der Erlkönig by Goethe. The film is in German.[1]


Zelkowicz studied English and biopsychology before turning to animation. He is graduate of CalArts, for which The ErlKing was his thesis film in 2002, and has worked with the Will Vinton and Chiodo Brothers studios.[1]


The ErlKing had its public premiere at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival,[2] and has screened at the New York Film Festival, the Mill Valley Film Festival and the Dok Leipzig, among others.[1]


In May 2012, The ErlKing was an adapted for use by the American progressive metal band Hope Lies Within. In conjunction with the band's musical release, permission was granted to Hope Lies Within by artist Benjamin Zelkowicz to adapt his already-released sand art video The ErlKing to their own musical version of Franz Schubert's Der Erlkönig[3] and an English poem version titled The Erlking.[4] Although permission was granted, the film's original integrity could not be broken. The only changes to the original sand art video were the opening and closing credits. Even though none of the film's original timing was modified, Hope Lies Within made small musical cuts to their recording that would allow the song to fit over the video seamlessly.


Animation World Network wrote that the project was a "quite beautiful and accomplished film",[1] and Zelkowicz's choice to use only one hue for his sand animation was a "limited palette which produces a kind of sepia effect is very effective in capturing the nocturnal, spooky milieu of the poem and song."[1] They felt that his choice to not use English subtitles to accompany the German language song was problematic for those viewers who did not understand the language or were unfamiliar with the Goethe's original work. It was concluded that the director's choices were "at worst minor flaws in what is otherwise a very successful effort."[1]

The film was a finalist at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ 30th annual Student Academy Awards in the Animation Category.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hofferman, Jon (17 April 2003). "Fresh from the Festivals: April 2003's Film Reviews". Animation World Network. Retrieved 29 July 2010. 
  2. ^ staff. "2003 Sundance Film Festival, The ErlKing". Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Der Erlkoing music video by Hope Lies Within at Blank TV's Youtube Page". Retrieved 2010-09-11. 
  4. ^ "The Erlking music video by Hope Lies Within Official Hope Lies Within Youtube Page". Retrieved 2010-09-11. 
  5. ^ McGuire, Barbara; Feiwell, Jill (May 7, 20013). "Acad unveils 28 student kudos finalists". Variety. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 

External links[edit]