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Czech Republic, 2010, 105 Minute Running Time
Program: Contemporary World CinemaLanguage: Czech English Subtitles
DIRECTOR: Jan Svankmajer
Producer: Jaromír KallistaEditor: Marie ZemanováScreenwriter: Jan SvankmajerCinematographer: Juraj Galvánek, Jan RuzickaPrincipal Cast: Václav Helsus, Klára Issová, Zuzana Krónerová, Daniela Bakerova, Emília Doseková
The Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer may be 78 years old, but the heralded “Animator of Prague” has lost neither his surrealist momentum nor his Eastern European gift for piercing black humor. In the first film he's made since 2005, Svankmajer uses a cunning mixture of live action and animation to explore the past traumas and vivid fantasy life of a middle-aged clerk named Evzen (Vaclav Helsus) while gently mocking the dueling theories of Freud and Jung. Those good professors, whose animated portraits hang on a female psychiatrist's wall, wage a running battle over her interpretations of Evzen's plight.
Best known for bleaker works like Little Otik and Lunacy, Svankmajer has here fashioned what he calls “a psychoanalytic comedy” in which his embattled protagonist dreams constantly of a beautiful and alluring young woman dressed in red (Klara Issova), whose name keeps changing: she's first Eva, then Emily, at last Eugenia—just like Evzen's mother. Rather than purge these visions, Evzen wants only to encourage them, and Svankmajer has a field day rummaging around in the hyperactive minds of his characters—represented almost entirely by animated photo cutouts, a la Monty Python.
A cutout version of the director himself goes on camera right at the start, carping that there’s “no money in dreams.” Then he spends the next 108 minutes assessing their value to all of us. More playful than usual and as innovative as ever, Svankmajer demonstrates in the sixth film of storied career that humankind's interior life really is something like a movie.
- BILL GALLO
In cooperation with Bohemian Productions, Honorary Consulate for the Czech Republic of Colorado
Additional support provided by the Czech Center New York
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