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Collected Shorts of Jan Svankmajer


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Collected Shorts of Jan Svankmajer + Phantom Museums: The Short Films of the Quay Brothers + Jiri Barta: Labyrinth of Darkness
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

14 shorts by the remarkable surrealist. Utilizing a combination of puppets, humans, stop-motion animation and live action, his films conjure up a dreamlike universe. Includes the shorts The Fall of the House of Usher, A Game With Stones, Et Cetera, Punc

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The beloved Czech animator Jan Svankmajer receives a handsome retrospective in this two-disc set, compiling his short works from 1965 to 1992. The director of the feature-length films Alice and Little Otik, Svankmajer's shorts are sometimes unsettling yet delicately crafted worlds unto themselves, where inanimate objects like potatoes, piles of office supplies, or slices of meat move with life. There's a crudeness to the movement in these shorts that call attention to their creator's methods, and this crudeness is precisely what give the little stories their antic rhythms. Svankmajer is even interested in applying the herky-jerky pacing of stop-motion to flesh and blood actors; in one short, "Food," a man walks into a room and sits down at a table across from what appears to be another man. Instead, it's an animatronic food-delivery device that is activated by a series of kicks, slaps, and punches, delivering breakfast via a dumbwaiter installed in its chest. Svankmajer created many of these beautifully weird and witty pieces while struggling under the repressive political climate of Eastern Europe during the cold war. That he managed to develop an evolving body of work that inspired a generation of filmmakers like Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam is a testament to his doggedness and the passion of his vision. Extras include a thoughtful BBC documentary about the filmmaker. --Ryan Boudinot

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Jan Svankmajer
  • Directors: Jan Svankmajer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: KimStim
  • DVD Release Date: October 1, 2014
  • Run Time: 172 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009KA8JY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,475 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

I don't have a single DVD drive/player that can read both disks.
Amazon Customer
Jan Svankmajer is certainly an attractive man... not that I roll that way mind you... I'm just sayin.
Timboliah PantsOnFiyah
The visual solution for both films, the camera movements are unforgettable.
Galina

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Gross on August 19, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This two disk set is a repackaging of the disks from The Collected Shorts of Jan Svankmajer, Vol. 1 - The Early Years (2002) and The Collected Shorts of Jan Svankmajer, Vol. 2 - The Later Years (2002) at the same price as one of the earlier disks (such a bargain!). As mentioned in other reviews of the earlier disks and as the included filmography makes clear, this is not, alas, a complete set of Svankmajer's shorts.Read more ›
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Carl Tait on May 25, 2006
Format: DVD
Jan Svankmajer's creepy, surreal films are unique. Though rarely gory in the usual sense, these movies have been known to disturb even the most jaded viewers, thanks largely to the disquieting use of stop-motion animation. These shorts make an excellent introduction -- or postlude -- to Svankmajer's dark feature films such as "Alice" and "Little Otik."

Svankmajer is at his best when focusing on nightmarish dream worlds: the malevolent apartment in "The Flat" or the subterranean horrors of "Down to the Cellar." When Svankmajer slips into political commentary, he becomes preachy and repetitive. "The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia" is already stale, and the dreadful "Et Cetera" is an exercise in aren't-we-clever monotony. Luckily, the lesser films don't detract from the remarkable experience of the greater ones.

One major drawback: although this pair of DVDs (formerly sold separately) call themselves "The Collected Shorts," they are very far from complete. Favorites such as Jabberwocky and Darkness-Light-Darkness are nowhere to be found (though D-L-D is included on the DVD of "Alice"). Other works such as The Last Trick, Virile Games, The Ossuary, Leonardo's Diary, and J.S. Bach: Fantasia in G Minor have previously appeared on VHS in the US or UK, but are mysteriously absent from these DVDs. Several other missing shorts have never even had a VHS release: Historia naturae, The Garden, Don Juan, The Castle of Otranto, and Another Kind of Love.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Deru on May 9, 2006
Format: DVD
I'm only now beginning to explore anything resembling the fringes of cinema, and discs like this only make me more interested to press ahead. If you like film more visceral than intellectual and/or you enjoy warped, sometimes outrageous humor, then your $20 will be well spent on this collection.

I only give it three stars because (1) Kino could've fit a lot more content on these discs, and (2) the packaging was slapped together haphazardly; for ex the sequence of the titles on the case don't match the actual sequence inside, and the listed running times are often wayyyy off. Overall, tremendously rewarding content but due only to Svankmajer himself, not to the DVD producers.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Galina on January 12, 2007
Format: DVD
I may say "groundbreaking", "dark", "visceral", and "superb". I may say, he looks inside my mind, takes the deepest fears that I would never want to be uncovered, turns them into the images hellishly disturbing but mesmerizing and threw them back at me. I may say, in his work, infernal visions of Bosch meet the impossible creations and repetitions of M.C Escher, meet originality, surrealism and dark humor of Luis Bunuel, meet unbearable quiet horror of Edgar Poe, and ETA Hoffman's grotesque combinations of the macabre and realism. I may say it but my words would not give you a slightest idea what you are going to face - you have to see for yourself.

Each and every short I saw were masterpieces but there are few that stand out. "Moznosti dialogu" (1982) aka "Dimensions of Dialogue" (or it could be translated as "Possibilities of Dialogue") is one of my very favorite Svankmajer's short films. It consists of three parts, "Eternal Dialog", "Passionate Dialog", and "Exhausting Dialog". When I watched it, I was thinking about Tennessee Williams' words, "All of us are locked in our loneliness like in the cage". Complete loneliness, inability to communicate, impossibility of dialog and understanding - this is quite a dark opinion of the humanity but how masterfully and wickedly funny it was presented. How incredibly unique and marvelous Svankmajer's vision is. Among many spectacular images, the clay lovemaking scene in the "Passionate Dialog" was perhaps one of the most sensual I've ever seen in the movies. As any genuine work of Art, Svankmajer's little gem fascinates a viewer on many levels.
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Collected Shorts of Jan Svankmajer
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