Jan Švankmajer (born September 4, 1934) is an internationally acclaimed and influential Czech
animator and film director. His works are often surreal and make use of live-action, cut-outs, stop-motion, claymation and puppet animation. He has both made short films and full length films.
Švankmajer works within national Czech(oslovakian) traditions such as fairy tales, puppet theatres and the surreal stories of Franz Kafka
and Karel Capek
. His films are often strange, dark and disturbing, but also have a Dark Comedy
side to them. Still, they are highly original and the creativity is impressive. Because Švankmajer worked under the Communist regime his films remained unknown in the West until the 1980s. Even worse, the government banned him in 1972 from making films, and many of his later films were suppressed.
Since then, Švankmajer has been discovered and praised by film and animation fans alike. People like Terry Gilliam
, Tim Burton
and The Brothers Quay
have been influenced by his work. His best known film is probably Alice
(1988), which has become a cult classic and was reviewed by Oancitizen for Brows Held High
Among his films are:
This animator/director's work provides examples of:
- Animal Motif: Chickens.
- Animate Inanimate Object: The director often animates lifeless things or objects, especially animal skeletons and stuffed animals.
- Anthropomorphic Food: In the short "Meat Love" (1989), two pieces of meat romantically dance with each other, but are cooked anyway in the end.
- Big Eater (and Extreme Omnivore): The two customers in the "Lunch" segment of "Food" are so starved that they eat everything in their vicinity. Also, Little Otik.
- Bizarre Taste In Food: The central theme of the short "Food".
- Body Horror: Švankmajer often makes strange new biological creations in his stop motion animation of skeletons.
- The City/Ghibli Hills: Two of Švankmajer's most frequent exterior settings (although interior scenes are far more common).
- Deranged Animation
- Eaten Alive: A frequent theme.
- Eating Shoes: Two customers in a restaurant in "Food" start eating everything in their vicinity, including their own shoes, because their waiter refuses to take their order.
- Eat The Camera: Švankmajer often use close-ups of human mouths, mostly when they are eating something or when they are narrating a story.
- Fairy Tale Motifs
- Faust: He adapted the story for his film Faust.
- I Ate What??: In his short "Food", characters eat various things that in reality are unedible.
- Le Film Artistique
- Marionette Motion: Various objects are animated in an often eerily unnatural way.
- Music Video: He animated the music video for Hugh Cornwell's "Another Kind Of Love".
- Post Modernism: There's a blurring line between reality and fiction in his entire oeuvre.
- Scary Teeth: Objects, animals and humans with big, japping jaws full of teeth are omnipresent in his animation.
- Stealth Pun: "Meat Love" is about two uncooked pieces of steak having sex before being grilled. It's a display of raw emotion.
- Stop Motion
- Surreal Horror