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Jan Svankmajer

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on: September 27, 2007, 05:23:38 AM
this dude definitely needs a thread. if you ask me one of the most creative filmmakers ever. and one of the most bizarre, weird and fucked up storytellers ever as well.

Jan Švankmajer (born 4 September 1934 in Prague) is a Czech surrealist artist. His work spans several media. He is known for his surreal animations and features, which have greatly influenced other artists such as Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, The Brothers Quay and many others.

Švankmajer has gained a reputation over several decades for his distinctive use of stop-motion technique, and his ability to make surreal, nightmarish and yet somehow funny pictures. He is still making films in Prague at the time of writing.

Švankmajer's trademarks include very exaggerated sounds, often creating a very strange effect in all eating scenes. He often uses very sped-up sequences when people walk and interact. His movies often involve inanimate objects coming alive and being brought to life through stop-motion. Food is a favourite subject and medium. Stop-motion features in most of his work, though his feature films also include live action to varying degrees.

he made some really amazing short films mixing animation and live-action. "food" and "darkness/light/darkness" are probably my favorites.

this week i watched all of his 5 feature films for the first time. i'd rank them as followed:

1) conspirators of pleasure
really, really weird film about all sorts of fetishes and surreal rituals. including a guy who builds himself a masturbating machine and a woman who loves to get her toes sucked by fish.

2) lunacy
everything tim burton wants to be. a mixture of two stories by marquis de sade and edgar allen poe. it's one of the most bizarre and weird things i've ever seen. one of the greatest films of 2005.

3) little otik
dark fairytale with some really twisted elements. a childless couple make a piece of wood their child and really get obsessed with it. meanwhile a little girl who's trying to find out what's going on with the couple gets stalked by an old paedophile.

4) faust
nice version of the old story with some amazing effects.

5) alice
very dissapointing in my eyes. it just dragged on forever and this is only 90 minutes long. it had some great stop motion but it's not enough to just rely on that.
when i was a little kid i wanted to know what caused thunder.

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Reply #1 on: September 27, 2007, 06:48:33 AM
I've seen Otik and Alice - both good in their own ways, though I agree that Alice is a bit of a letdown, considering what he could have done with that story. Little Otik is super-creepy fun: I feel it's kind of impossible not to like that film if you have any love at all for horror and the traditions it grew from. Conspiritors of Pleasure and Lunacy both sound interesting.
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Reply #2 on: September 03, 2013, 01:54:30 PM

I didn't have expectations toward this film - picked it up through pure luck and it is the first thing made by Svankmajer I've seen. I agree that Alice has a lot of potential for adaptation, yet I have to see a movie that explores book to its fullest. Right now "Neco z Alenky" is my favourite adaptation I'm aware of (any recommendations?). Some of the dark and adult  possibilities hidden in book are explored: Alice is pretty violent girl.

Need to see more from Svankmajer in future.
Simple mind - simple pleasures...