2.5 stars. It's the only Švankmajer film I struggle with... which probably suggests that I'm overly attached to my superego or something. Of course, Švankmajer has never really been about fun~ that's just an enjoyable symptom of the infantile aggression; but even with the customary squelchy sounds & droll humour, this is a surprisingly difficult piece of work to stomach. More hardcore than one might at first suspect.
Not the best film about the thin line between sanity and insanity--fellow Czech Milos Forman did much better with OFOtCN. Not the best stop-motion surrealist film--Svankmajer's own "Alice" is better. The screenwriters are top-notch, though. I would've hoped for a meatier treatment of the philosophical issues and for less...um...meat. Here, the stop-motion interludes serve as filler and are not crucial to the plot.
To say that the film is difficult to watch is an understatement. The narrative twists and turns, but is one of the easier aspects to the film. The sound to the film is a challenge. The most off putting aspect though were the visual asides that did not have a connection to the plot. This absurdism does have its appeal, but it did not work for me in this film. The film felt like a mess, but not in a good way.
Throughout the film I kept reminding myself "this is a complicated film". It's too easy, and maybe a little enticing, to dismiss it. It's easy because of how contradictory the filmmaker starts his film. The introductory commentary by a director is not new, a pessimist, nihilistic one isn't either. Nevertheless this one is particularly striking because of how it built such a destructive view of the film.
A shock to the senses. Felt like there are two films mashed together, the live action narrative and the claymation. At times one dominates the other making the other unnecessary. Overall that sums up my feeling for the film; unnecessary My first film by Švankmajer but willing to check out more for the unique animation
Svankmajer sets out to make a horror film full of the 'degeneracy peculiar to that genre' with a nod to Poe and the 'blasphemy and subversiveness' of Sade. Unfortunately the film fails on these goals and the bloated but ambitious grotesque beats the viewer over the head with its overlong runtime. Compared to earlier works such as 'Alice' or 'Faust' this comes up very short.