Jan Švankmajer is a Czech filmmaker and artist whose work spans several media. He is a self-labeled surrealist known for his animations and features. Švankmajer was born September 4th, 1934 in Prague from a German Bohemian descent. An early influence on his later artistic development was a puppet theatre he was given for Christmas as a child. He studied at the College of Applied Arts in Prague and later in the Department of Puppetry at the Prague Academy of Performing Arts. He then began working for Prague’s Semafor Theatre where he founded the Theatre of Masks. He then moved on to the Laterna Magika multimedia theatre, where he renewed his association with Radok. This theatrical experience is reflected in Švankmajer’s first film The Last Trick, which was released in 1964. Under the influence of theoretician Vratislav Effenberger Švankmajer moved from the mannerism of his early work to classic surrealism, first manifested in his film The Garden (1968), and joined the Czechoslovakian Surrealist Group.
Švankmajer has gained a reputation over several decades for his distinctive use of stop-motion technique, and his ability to make surreal, nightmarish, and yet somehow funny pictures. Švankmajer’s trademarks include very exaggerated sounds, often creating a very strange effect in all eating scenes. He often uses fast-motion sequences when people walk or interact. His movies often involve inanimate objects being brought to life through stop-motion. Many of his films also include clay objects in stop-motion, otherwise known as claymation.
Today Švankmajer is one of the most celebrated animators in the world. Among his best known works are the feature films Alice (1988), Faust (1994), Conspirators of Pleasure (1996), Little Otik (2000) and Lunacy (2005), a surreal comic horror based on two works of Edgar Allan Poe and the life of Marquis de Sade.
He continues to make films in Prague.
*I don’t like the music on this one as much as I do on the cut versions but this is the most complete version of this film I can find.*
4 Dark and Light