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The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia
February 10, 2007 9:47 PM   Subscribe

The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia (youtube) is a fun stop motion short film about the same. Knowledge of the Czech language not required for enjoyment or understanding. More of artist Jan Svankmajer's work here.
posted by Burhanistan (10 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love Svankmajer. I appreciate the variety of materials that he uses, and the aesthetic of surrealist decay that pervades his work. He is a superb craftsman, and is possessed of what I can only imagine is a tremendous amount of patience.

He also has this way of making food look really really gross.

Apparently, he was forced by the (communist) Czechoslovakian government to "rest" for a number of years, because his work was considered too subversive. I wish I understood more about his context - I'm sure there are lots of political overtones in his work that I don't catch because I'm not overly familiar with Czechoslovakian history.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:16 PM on February 10, 2007


He also has this way of making food look really really gross.


Indeed.

I've got the new film Lunacy at home right now -- going to screen it tomorrow. Faust is my favorite work by the fellah, especially the life-sized puppets.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:28 PM on February 10, 2007


nice post - Svankmajer's amazing. Thanks!
posted by scody at 10:30 PM on February 10, 2007


Svankmajer's cool -- I definitely prefer his shorts to his feature films. Darkness/ Light/Darkness is excellent.

As far as stop-motion goes, I prefer the heavily Svankmajer-influenced Brothers Quay, whose work tends to be a little less whimsical and a lot more nightmarish. Street of Crocodiles, which was on Youtube for a while but has since been deleted, is an amazing film (as is the rest of the shorts on The Brothers Quay Collection -- they're all very dreamlike, technically astonishing (the Quays work in miniature, but frequently feature moving cameras with animated subjects) and strangely affecting. Love 'em.

The Quays echo Svankmajer in technique and motif, though their stuff isn't at all political as far as I've seen. They also address him a little more directly; the aforementioned collection also features a short entitled "The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer."
posted by lumensimus at 11:29 PM on February 10, 2007


That's absolutely terrific. Actually, it's better than that--atomic whopping good. I was only about to go to bed, thank you so much.
posted by toma at 2:41 AM on February 11, 2007


Thanks!
posted by nj_subgenius at 5:23 AM on February 11, 2007


Thanks for this. I wish my czech was better...I understood maybe every 4th word that came up.

And Afroblanco, I have the same problem you have with reading his work (and I've studied a decent amount of Czech history and culture). I think most of their objection was based in the fact that his work is hard to interpret. Most of his work feels politically critical, regardless of the regime's philosophy.
posted by piratebowling at 8:56 AM on February 11, 2007


I hear that he's done a version of Faust using life-sized puppets. I gots to see me some of that.
posted by davelog at 9:55 AM on February 11, 2007


This is a good short of Svankmajer's work but too bad the Youtube one is in Japanese. My public library has a good collection of his stuff on DVD so I've seen a nicer version of this as well as many others.
posted by JJ86 at 6:24 PM on February 12, 2007


Bookhouse, did you watch Lunacy yet? I saw it when it played at the Film Forum last year, and while I only knew a couple of people I could recommend it to (and none of them went to see it), there are images in it that pop up in my memory more frequently than I'd like sometimes.

I've loved Svankmajer since I was little and saw Food on some show on the Scifi Channel where they used to show short films. Even when I find them perverse or repulsive, his films strike me as feeling so tactile that my mouth will water and my fingertips will tingle just from watching (and listening) to them.
posted by Nathaniel W at 8:55 PM on February 12, 2007


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