An Evaluation of the Work of Jan SvankmajerJan Svankmajer is an animator like no other that I know of. Surrealist in style, his artistic work encompasses a broad range of mediums- film, sculpture, painting, graphic design, prose and poetry. His film ic work often involves a combination of animation, puppetry and live action- a challenging style for any filmmaker to use effectively. Svankmajer films are by trademark dark and macabre tales, told not for the sake of aesthetic or technique, but always to serve a very personal purpose, which I will talk about shortly.
In this essay, I will deal mainly with the work that Svankmajer created as an animator. To put it in context, however, I will first give a rough overview of his background and the work for which he is best known. Svankmajer was born in Czechoslovakia in 1934. His parents were both artistically inclined; his father was a window dresser while his mother was a dressmaker. After studying puppet theatre for four years in Prague, Svankmajer began his career as a director, designer and puppeteer at the State Puppet Theatre in Liberec.
During the Early 1960 s he collaborated with several different theatre companies in Prague to stage a variety of plays. In 1964 his interests turned to filmmaking. In this medium he felt that more would be possible technically, and that his work would reach a wider audience. After creating various award-winning short films like The Last Trick, his work underwent a decisive transition from Mannerism to Surrealism in 1968. As a surrealist Svankmajer would create many highly acclaimed films involving animation and live action. Svankmajer’s work became surrounded by political controversy with the making of the film Antonio’s Diary (1972).
Youth in Film Essay Films are a influential medium. Many people in the American society teach themselves using films as their lead. The films, "Rebel without a cause", "Grease", and "Valley Girl", all are films which create perspectives of the nature of youth. Each of these films has stereotypes to show a view of youth according to the film that may hurt the view of youth today.A common stereotype ...
The film was not intended to have political meaning, but the Czech authorities banned him from making films for seven years simply because it contained unauthorised footage depicting everyday Czech life. Dimensions of Dialogue (1982) became his best-known short, and won several international awards. Like Antonio’s Diary, however, it was banned in Czechoslovakia, and was also shown to the ideology commission of the Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Communist Party as an example of the kind of film that should not be made. Alice (1985-87), based on the book by Lewis Carol, was Svankmajer’s first feature film, and his first to reach an American audience. Since then he has made two more feature-length films: Faust (1993) and Conspirators of Pleasure (1996).
Stylistically, Svankmajer takes a very individual approach to filmmaking. In contrast to most stop-motion animators, Svankmajer does not design and create the characters that appear in his films. When watching a Svankmajer film, the viewer could be presented with a cast of real people, porcelain dolls, skeletons, animal corpses, corkscrews, tights or any object that the artist found interesting. His sets might typically involve decaying Czech buildings or industrial landscapes, littered with debris. Svankmajer’s imagery is usually dark, frequently shot in black and white.
Often his films will have no discernible plot, the director preferring to focus on the beauty of the movement of the objects, and on the simple creation of a surreal and sinister world. The reason why I find Svankmajer’s work so fascinating is actually tied in with the eccentric set of values and intentions behind this unique style. At first I assumed that Svankmajer prefers to use old, decaying objects in his films simply to instil his audience with a sense of fear an unease. The reason, however, is far more personal to the artist.
To Svankmajer, objects are ‘more alive than people’. In a recent interview, Svankmajer explained that he uses animation for the purpose of letting ‘objects speak for themselves’. He went on to say that this is because he believes that objects are capable of concealing the events that they have witnessed within them, that they actually have a memory of their own. First he must ‘listen’ to the objects, and then communicate with them by ‘bringing them alive’; telling their story.
IS 490 SPECIAL TOPICS Computer Graphics May 6, 1996 Table of Contents Introduction 3 How It Was 3 How It All Began 4 Times Were Changing 6 Industry s First Attempts 7 The Second Wave 10 How the Magic is Made 11 Modeling 12 Animation 13 Rendering 13 Conclusion 15 Bibliography 16 Introduction Hollywood has gone digital, and the old ways of doing things are dying. Animation and special effects ...
In another interview he clarifies that his ability to make this interpretation is the single most important thing to him within his work. He criticises other animators for preferring to demonstrate their technical abilities rather than concentrating on giving meaning to their films. This ideology led Svankmajer to create The Fall of the House of Usher in 1980, adapted from the famous short story by Edgar Allen Poe. In this film he recounts the tale of horror entirely through animated objects and surfaces. I think the beauty in this film lies in the artist’s obvious fascination with texture and tactile imagery, and the way in which he captures this using different lighting effects. The fact that objects have taken the place of humans entirely makes this portrayal of the story a very personal one.
The Fall of the House of Usher came to be made when Svankmajer was presented with the opportunity to choose a classic piece of literature on which to base a film. Poe had been one of his idols ever since he was a boy. This story in particular had left a very strong impression on the artist. We get a clear sense of this when watching the film, of the artist’s desire to portray his own personal reaction of horror to certain elements contained within the original text.
There is much use of analogy, as well as concentration on seemingly ‘irrelevant’ details- the film in fact only bears slim resemblance to Poe’s original version. It was Svankmajer’s opinion that if he had tried to translate the story more literally, using actors and conventional dramatic language, he would not have succeeded. For instance, the author of the story goes into immense detail in the description of Usher’s face. Svankmajer was unable to relate this description in physical form to any actor on screen, however, because he felt that the image portrayed would be unconvincing.
?In this assignment I aim to discuss life story work: which can provide the care worker, and care receiver a better understanding of each other’s needs, and provide the care worker with information that can help support the care receiver in the best way. The carer needs to possess certain skills sensitivity, confidentiality, empathy, trustworthiness, and have commitment to seeing the story to the ...
‘What about the metamorphosis of his soul that should be reflected on his face, as the story progresses?’ he questions. This element was too important to Svankmajer to risk ‘clumsy’ translation through the appearance of a man. I feel that the approach that Svankmajer takes in telling the story is effective, partly because it does not allow dialogue to limit the audience’s interpretation of the events. The viewer’s imagination is given freedom to create a personal sense of horror, in reaction to the sinister and emotive imagery used. Little is explained, and Svankmajer uses the unknown to frighten the audience. Suspense is built up gradually throughout the film, aided by the enigmatic nature of the storyline.
It is arguable, however, that the film is likely to be more effective when the viewer is familiar with the plot of the original (more decipherable) text, and is given an interesting comparison to make. Because Svankmajer’s work is so uncompromising in style and content, it would seem to be unmarketable for commercial purposes, especially given popular tastes. However in 1988 he made a music video for Hugh Cornwall, and a year later made two short films for MTV. As it is becoming more widely recognised, his work is having profound influence on animators, from the famous Brothers Quay to even the most prominent of Hollywood directors, like Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam. In 1997 Svankmajer received the ‘Persistence of Vision’ award at the San Francisco Film Festival, a fitting award for a director with such solid ideals. Despite the fact that most of his work exists in the form of short films, and therefore can only receive limited release, it seems clear that his talent has made its mark within the realms of animation and film-making world wide..