Star Date: 9.4.13
Sep. 4, 1934 - Jan Švankmajer born
In Jan Švankmajer’s film 2000 Little Otik, the titular character is a stump of wood who comes to life when treated like a baby; Švankmajer himself, though, arrived into the world in the traditional manner on September 4, 1934, in the Czechoslovakian capital, Prague. In the history of animation, few people have been more influential than Švankmajer, as his strikingly original perspective and painstaking eye for detail have led the way for figures such as Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton and the Quay Brothers. While mainstream animation tends to focus on happy, colorful antics, Švankmajer has presented a view of the world that is more sinister and macabre, filtered through a tradition of dark Eastern European fairy tales. Most famous for his stop motion work (which often has a slight jerkiness that adds to the viewers unease), Švankmajer came to prominence first in the 1960s with a series of short films, but more recently has made features, such as Alice (1988), Faust (1994) and the aforementioned Little Otik, which have mixed live action with stop motion. You can read more about Švankmajer in FilmInFocus’ article on the history of stop motion. ~~ Focus Features
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