Spike Jonze & Olympia Le Tan’s animation of stitched book covers

felt books on shelf

Vintage first-edition book cover designs of classic reads, rendered in felt and embroidery, and animated into a tragicomic love story between literary characters…holy shit, what’s not to love about Spike Jonze and Olympia Le-Tan‘s new stop-motion animation, filmed upon the fabled shelves of romantic, nostalgic Shakespeare & Company bookshop in Paris?

This turns me on in so many ways, as a bookbinder, a reader, an embroiderer, an artist…I feel so full of inspiration right now that I think I might explode. First Jillian Tamaki’s book covers, now this…this has really got me wanting to embroider and stitch fabulous bookcovers…

Note: I have no idea whether the movie embedded properly…it might be blocked for sharing this way, I don’t know, maybe it’s a WordPress thing…but do make sure you hop over to Nowness and watch the short animation, which is mostly funny, in a bawdy and irreverent way, but with a brief moment of sweet sadness. Links to Nowness are at the bottom of this post.

felt books closeup

In Mourir Auprès de Toi (To Die By Your Side), director Spike Jonze’s stop-motion animation has given a wonderful life and story to the fibre artistry of Olympia Le-Tan.

On a shelf in the iconic Parisian bookstore Shakespeare and Company, the star-crossed love story of Macbeth’s skeleton and his Bride of Dracula amour plays out amidst Le-Tan’s fabric and felt illustrations of vintage first-edition book cover designs.

The project started when Jonze asked for a Catcher in the Rye embroidery to put on his wall and Le-Tan asked for a film in return. With French filmmaker Simon Cahn co-directing, the team wrote the script between Los Angeles and Paris over a six month period, before working night and day animating the 3,000 pieces of felt Le-Tan had cut by hand. “I love getting performances from, telling stories about and humanizing things that aren’t human,” said Jonze of working with Le-Tan’s characters.

i am fucked

shakespeare and company


Spike Jonze: Mourir Auprès de Toi on Nowness.com.


7 thoughts on “Spike Jonze & Olympia Le Tan’s animation of stitched book covers

  1. Shakespeare & Co. is the most interesting bookstore I have ever been to.. the second floor is made for authors to live in, there is even an ollllld typewriter and mattresses everywhere. The rule is “you can sleep here if you can read one book through each day”. There is also an out of tune piano which I played for an hour without anybody punching me. Indeed, whatever you do there looks magic, and nobody would ever doubt everything has a reason to be.
    By the way, the owner, whose last name is Whitman (!) is maybe 90 or so and if you browse on youtube you’ll get across a video of him cutting his hair in a very peculiar way… with fire!
    Ahah crazy place, just 2 min from Notre Dame. I hope his daughter will keep it as… atopic as it is now. Thanks Whitman man, you created an oasis in the middle of Paris, a bookstore where you can spend hours without anyone wondering why or when or whatever. A place to meet and talk, to read and play. A magic place!


    1. Thank you for fleshing out the image of Shakespeare and Co. better…now that I feel I can almost smell and feel the place, I am green with envy. A book a day, huh? I could do a book a day, easily. Time to hop over to a flight page and see what it actually costs to get to Paris, methinks! 🙂 Kidding. Not yet, anyway. Working on it. I know a few girls who cut their bangs with a cigarette lighter…god, the smell, can you imagine?
      I love your personalized adjective. But the bookshop seems to belong so fully to its environment, how can it be atopic? Or have you assigned a new meaning to the word, something to do with spaghetti and almond milk and chubby babies?
      Grazie, Fran, for the visit and the eye-opening comments. XX Nat


  2. Thanks for bringing this movie into your blog and discussing it. The book covers are amazing as is the animation. Also liked your post on Tilleke Schwartz’s embroidery (wow!), Jillian Tamaki’s designs, and your thoughts on value.
    best, nadia


    1. Oh, Nadia, it’s so easy to just keep posting the amazing things that other people do! I just realized that the “book covers” are actually Olympia Le-Tan’s felt handbags, themselves. I knew she made book-themed handbags, but thought she made these books specially for the video. My mistake. You can see the little golden clasps at the foredge of the ‘books’ in some photos.


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