MOSTLY FILM: Japanese Screens (or Rising Monkey 2012: A Prologue)
Simian Substitute Site For July 2012: Funny Monkey Comedy Carnival

MOSTLY FILM: Surviving Svankmajer

Blue is the colourAnother day, another piece for Europe's Best Website, another article here promoting it and providing backup material. Last time I did this, I ended up in the awkward situation where the backup material was several hundred words longer than the piece it supported. This time, you'll be pleased to hear, we're back to the usual arrangement.

So today on Mostly Film, you'll find an article by me called Surviving Švankmajer, reviewing newly-released DVDs of three feature films by the Czech director Jan Švankmajer. At the start, I mention how the director was initially better known for his short animations, and suggest that you go onto YouTube and watch some for yourself.

Ideally, what you really should do is buy the BFI DVD Jan Švankmajer: The Complete Short Films, which has all of his non-feature work in its best available form. But if you're a cheapskate or want to watch them right now, today's Red Button Feature is a YouTube playlist of eight of my favourite Švankmajer shorts.

If you watch all these back-to-back, it'll take 75 minutes or so, and you'll see how Švankmajer's style has developed over the years. (You'll also see lots of genitals and dismembered body parts, so be careful where you watch this, OK?) The eight films are:

1. Et Cetera (1966). An early example of the director's love of structure and repetition.

2. The Ossuary (1970). Less animation, more aggressively edited live action, in a documentary about the old boneyard at Sedlec Ossuary.

3. Dimensions Of Dialogue (1982). A breakdown in communication, in three movements.

4. Virile Games (1988). Soccer violence at its finest, including a wholly inappropriate use of the old Chelsea song Blue Is The Colour.

5. Meat Love (1988). Švankmajer boiled down to his ultimate essence: a sixty second film about two steaks shagging.

6. Darkness, Light, Darkness (1989). Incisive metaphor for the human condition, or shaggy dog story with delightfully bleak punchline? You choose.

7. The Death Of Stalinism In Bohemia (1990). This was always going to be something a little bit special: Švankmajer takes on the history of Czechoslovakia from 1945 to 1989.

8. Food (1992). His last short film to date is another three-parter based around the digestive tract. Since then, Švankmajer has concentrated entirely on features, including the three I've reviewed on Mostly Film. And look, here they all are for you to buy.


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