A meditation on mortality and the transcendent power of art using the Sedlec Ossuary (near Kutná Hora in Bohemia) which is made from the skeletons of over 50,000 Black Death victims. Poem ‘How to Make the Likeness of a Bird’ by Jacques Prévert sung through the film. –BFI
Jan Švankmajer (born 4 September 1934 in Prague) is a Czech surrealist artist. His work spans several media. He is known for his surreal animations and features, which have greatly influenced other artists such as Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam, The Brothers Quay and many others. Švankmajer has gained a reputation over several decades for his distinctive use of stop-motion technique, and his ability to make surreal, nightmarish and yet somehow funny pictures. He is still making films in Prague. Švankmajer’s trademarks include very exaggerated sounds, often creating a very strange effect in all eating scenes. He often uses very sped-up sequences when people walk and interact. His movies often involve inanimate objects coming alive and being brought to life through stop-motion. Food is a favorite subject and medium. Stop-motion features in most of his work, though his feature films also include live action to varying degrees.
A lot of his movies, like the short film Down to the Cellar… read more
Having visited Kostnice 40 years after this was filmed, I feel as if The Ossuary provides an intimate comparison/companion to how the viewing of Sedlec is experienced today (that is - long before tourists, restoration and structural modifications). Fascinating in both content and stylistic choice; a classic and appreciated Švankmajer offering as fascinating and bizarre as the Ossuary itself.