Jan Svankmajer: The Complete Short Films 1964-1992 DVD
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Directed by Jan Svankmajer
Produced in 1964-1992
Main Language - Czech with English subtitles
Over three years in the preparation, the BFI's triple-disc box set is the definitive DVD collection of short films by the great Czech filmmaker-animator. One of cinemas most extraordinary talents, he has had a colossal influence on contemporary animation. His imagery, full of unexpected, outrageous conjunctions, comes from a consistent philosophy of militant Surrealism that underpins his work, in which he remains absolutely committed to the themes of dream, eroticism, revolt and freedom.
Complete here means complete: all 26 films in the official short filmography, including a music video for Hugh Cornwell and two "art breaks" for MTV. These run alongside the familiar classics: Punch and Judy, The Flat, Jabberwocky, Dimensions of Dialogue, Down to the Cellar, Virile Games, both versions of The Ossuary and many others. Extensive digital restoration ensures that this is the best they've ever looked on a domestic format.
A whole disc of extras includes many fascinating rarities. Johanes Doktor Faust is a puppet film containing vankmajer's first screen credit, while excerpts from Nick Carter in Prague show that his imagination was just as wild when devising special effects for mainstream commercial features.
Two documentaries provide a comprehensive survey of his work, starting with the full-length version of The Cabinet of Jan vankmajer, the Quay Brothers' famous animated sequences now interspersed with clips and in-depth analysis. The French documentary, Les Chimères des vankmajer offers a delightfully candid look at the creative partnership of vankmajer and his wife, the painter, poet and ceramicist Eva vankmajerová. vankmajer also discusses his fine art in an interview with Czech TV, and the trailer for his fifth feature Lunacy brings his work right up to date.
Everything but the kitchen sink? There's one of those, too, licked clean by an animated severed tongue in A Quiet Week in the House one of dozens of mind-boggling images that are distressingly hard to forget.
Michael Brooke on 21st May 2007
Author of 135 reviews
The most comprehensive DVD edition ever assembled of the short films by the legendary Czech Surrealist filmmaker-animator Jan Svankmajer. Technically and conceptually astonishing in their own right, together they add up to a body of work as remarkable for its philosophical consistency as for its eye-popping imagery. Spanning The Last Trick (1964) to Food (1992), all the classics are included (Punch and Judy, The Flat, Jabberwocky, Dimensions of Dialogue, Down to the Cellar, both versions of The Ossuary) alongside many British premieres.
Length: 464 mins
Aspect ratio: Various
Cat No: BFIVD632
Format: DVD Colour
- 3 disc digipack
- Bonus features: Johannes Doktor Faust (Radok, 1958)
- Excerpts from Nick Carter in Prague (Lipsky, 1977)
- The original 54 minute version of The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer (Griffiths, 1984)
- Les Chimeres des Svankmajer (Schmitt & Leclerc, 2000)
- The History of Painting and Sculpture extract (Kisil, 2001)
- Trailer for Lunacy
- Booklet with comprehensive notes on each film.