Jan Švankmajer is filmmaker unlike any other. His movies have inspired and amazed audiences around the world for their experimental and surreal content. Švankmajer is a name that many artists and creators know as one of the most influential animators and surrealists from the last 50 years. This week the legendary Czech animator and director announced that he would be producing his final film Insects.
I first discovered the world of Jan Švankmajer by watching the Sci-Fi Channel’s short film program called Exposure. The Breakfast segment of the Food trilogy, entitled Jidlo, is a strange series of dining rituals enacted by blue-collar Europeans as they eat their morning meal. One man enters a small room while another sits motionless at a table with a sign around his neck. What happens next is a bizarre stop-motion effects-filled tale about how a person can basically be turned into a vending machine.
Švankmajer’s films are always provocative and very interesting. We recently covered his adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but his other full-length features to include Faust, Conspirators of Pleasure, Lunacy and Little Otik are all worth seeing for fans of unique and artistic cinema that pushes the boundaries of practical special effects and storytelling. The only feature of his that has not been released yet in the U.S. is the 2010 film Surviving Life.
Insects is described as a misanthropic, Kafkaesque tale of six actors who meet in at a local pub to rehearse the Čapek brothers’ penned stage production The Insect Play. The preparation for this project has been going on for the last five years and is now looking to earn the initial funds for production through crowdfunding. The impact Jan Švankmajer has had on the entertainment world is huge for movie fans, and you can see his influence in the works of Terry Gilliam, Adam Jones of Tool and the works of Stephen and Timothy Quay. Insects is an important chapter in the history of animation and experimental cinema, and it will be one to watch out for.