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The Collected Shorts of Jan Svankmajer (Czech)

Footage: 86+76min

Year: 2002

Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer has fascinated the world with his surreal, dream-like, animated creations for many decades. Such is Svankmajer's magic, that the most ordinary objects and people can be imbued with lilting strangeness, with action and agency, with personality, and with deeply rooted cultural observations. His work has been a beacon to countless filmmakers, an inspiration to artists everywhere, and unquestionably some of the most important art to emerge from the often oppressive confines of the formerly Communist Czechoslovakia. Although his work lies within the realm of the surreal, Svankmajer uses his films to probe social institutions, classes, and interactions.

Volume 1 of the Collected Shorts discs brings us to the core of Svankmajer's work from 1965 to 1980, and Volume 2 from 1982 to 1992.

A Game With Stones

Footage: 9min

Year: 1965

A surreal, mechanical contraption drops stones into a bucket, which then go into ritual movements and progressions. A perfect example of Svankmajer's expert ability to take something inorganic and bring them to vibrant life, almost effortlessly. 

Punch and Judy

Footage: 10min

Year: 1966

A pair of hand-puppets quarrel over a real-life guinea pig. Soon they begin to battle each other.

Et Cetera

Footage: 7min

Year: 1966

An experimental animation presents the theme of gradual, upgraded progress.

Picnic With Weissmann

Footage: 13min

Year: 1969

Outdoor picnic items do their thing without the help of human beings. But maybe there's a reason why.

The Flat

Footage: 13min

Year: 1968

A Kafkaesque black comedy in which a man is held prisoner in an apartment where everyday objects turn against him.

A Quiet Week in the House

Footage: 13min

Year: 1969

A solitary terrorist breaks into an old, dilapidated house where he proceeds, for one week, to spy on various rooms. Inside those rooms, strange things are happening.

The Fall of the House of Usher

Footage: 15min

Year: 1980

A Gothic fantasia based on the classic Edgar Allan Poe tale of horror.

Dimensions of Dialogue

Footage: 12min

Year: 1982

A series of examinations on the subject of communication.

Down To The Cellar

Footage: 15min

Year: 1983

A young girl encounters a series of disturbing obstacles while on an errand to fetch potatos from the cellar.

The Pendulum, The Pit, and Hope

Footage: 16min

Year: 1983

A live-action, first-person-perspective interpretation of the Edgar Allan Poe's tale of torturwe and repression. A man condemned by the Spanish Inquisition attempts to escape his captors and a dungeon of tortures.

Meat Love

Footage: 1min

Year: 1988

Two steaks enjoy a brief romance before being cooked for dinner.


Footage: 20sec

Year: 1989

A dark ecological tragedy.

The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia



Footage: 15min

Year: 1990

After years of suffering under Communism in Czechoslovakia, Svankmajer made a brilliant political short that serves as his commentary on events in Communist Russia. It helps if you're a little familiar with the history of Russia and its influence on the Eastern Bloc.



Footage: 17min

Year: 1992



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