Lekce Faust 1994
Faust, 92 minutes -includes original Czech audio and dubbing & subtitles in English!
A very free adaptation of Marlowe's 'Doctor Faustus', Goethe's 'Faust' and various other treatments of the old legend of the man who sold his soul to the devil. Svankmajer's Faust is a nondescript man who, after being lured by a strange map into a sinister puppet theatre, finds himself immersed in an indescribably weird version of the play, blending live actors, clay model animation and giant puppets.
Přežít svůj život (teorie a praxe)
Surviving Life 2010
Surviving Life tells the story of Evžen (Václav Helšus), happily married to wife Milada (Zuzana Kronerová), who has strange dreams of a woman named Eve or Emily (Klára Issová). Like Alice down the rabbit hole, he’s drawn in; he wants to dream more, not unlike the heroes of The Science of Sleep and The Good Night.
A doctor recommends Evžen see a psychoanalyst; soon, Dr. Holubová (Daniela Bakerová) is revealing the meaning behind his dreams via anima, super-ego, and Oedipus complex, and Evžen’s further dreams start to make sense. Or is she just spouting Freudian nonsense and shaping Evžen’s innocent dream world into complex mother issues?
Surviving Life can be enjoyed on both levels, as a straightforward examination of dreams or a subversive satire on Freudian theory (the latter being my preferred interpretation). Either way, a particularly memorable, even haunting, climatic scene provides a sense of closure. While the real and dream worlds blend together – at times, you won’t be able to tell them apart – the director’s usual surrealist tendencies have generally been toned down here. Purists might object, but general audiences will find this a more approachable film than usual.
Every last bonus feature on the disc is English-friendly, right down to the trailers; English (and Czech – but not the other languages the feature caters for) subtitles are provided on each supplement where appropriate:
-Making Of (14:01) focuses on Švankmajer & the actors (he uses his own hands to choke lead Helšus).
-Making Of (Technological Process) (09:59) takes a revealing (if brief) look at the animation process, from photographing the actors speaking each syllable to filming the cutouts on 35mm.
-A Dream About a Dream (22:51) is a particularly candid behind-the-scenes featurette that focuses on Švankmajer’s interpretation of his own work and impressions by the cast & crew (“I was expecting some kind of extrovert who drinks a lot…but he keeps it all inside.”)
-Trailers (1:09 & 2:03)
-An Alternate Ending is pretty interesting, though wisely wasn’t used in the final film, which ends note-perfectly as is. This alternate does have a great final line, however, and I’m surprised Švankmajer didn’t fit it in elsewhere: “I am the Jabberwocky” ties in to both Švankmajer’s Alice and his 1971 short Jabberwocky, along with Terry Gilliam’s Jabberwocky.
-Work in Progress Photography (3:34), a slideshow of BTS photography.
-Photo Collage (0:55), a slideshow of selected photos from the feature.
-Poster, a half-minute look at the theatrical poster.
-Instead of an Explication, additional DVD-ROM content.
Spiklenci slasti 1996
Conspirators of Pleasure, 83 minutes
Six outwardly average individuals have elaborate fetishes they indulge with surreptitious care. A mousy letter carrier makes dough balls she grotesquely ingests before bed. A shop clerk fixates on a TV news reader while he builds a machine to massage and masturbate him. One of his customers makes an elaborate chicken costume for a voodoo-like scene with a doll resembling his plump neighbor. She, in turn, has a doll that resembles him, which she whips and dominates in an abandoned church. The TV news reader has her own fantasy involving carp. Her husband, who is indifferent to her, steals materials to fashion elaborate artifacts that he rubs, scrapes and rolls across his body.
Něco z Alenky
A surrealist re-visioning of Alice in Wonderland.
A memorably bizarre screen version of Lewis Carroll's novel 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland', mixing one live actor (Alice) with a large variety of stop-motion animated creatures, ranging from the complex (the White Rabbit) to the incredibly simple (the Caterpillar, consisting of a sock, a couple of glass eyes and a pair of false teeth). The original story is followed reasonably faithfully, though those familiar with this director's other films won't be the least bit surprised by the numerous digressions into Svankmajer territory, living slabs of meat and all. As the opening narration says, it's a film made for children... perhaps?
Little Otik aka Greedy Guts
When a childless couple learn that they cannot have children, it causes great distress. To ease his wife's pain, the man finds a stump in the backyard and chops it and varnishes it into the shape of a child. However the woman takes the root as her baby and starts to pretend that it is real. When the root takes life they seem to have gained a child; but its appetite is much greater than that of a normal child.
A horror movie testing two approaches to running an insane asylum - absolute freedom versus control and punishment - within the context of a world that combines the worst of both. Jean Berlot, a young man subject to a nightmare of being forced into a straitjacket by two orderlies, is befriended by a marquis. At the marquis's estate, Jean witnesses a black Mass, buries someone alive, and is invited to try preventive therapy. He's willing to enter a sanatorium because he believes he can rescue a young woman from there who has told him that the real director and staff of the clinic are locked in the basement. Jean conspires with her to set them free: the horrors have only begun.