Return to Prague School

Since we were talking about claymation and stop motion last time I thought it would be prudent to mention Jan Svankmajer.

If you’re looking for first class stop motion, he is the man you should turn to. Excellent storytelling techniques, surrealism at its best and with a very caustic tone, his films are small masterpieces and beautifully singular. Enjoy!

I have only made a selection of the ones I like. There’s so much material out there, if you like his work there are other films you can discover yourself. I should point out that he is an artist that might seem too strange at first glance, throw you a bit off-balance. I know it happened to me when I first watched one of his films, but he truly is so good, I couldn’t stop watching them. After a rewatch (that’s why we should always, always rewatch the good and the strange) I caught up with him and never looked back.

Emma (2012)

How very Tim Burton-ish. Very nicely weird.

Hollywood is such a factory these days, it always was but it seems like ever since the great big studios discovered just how much money they can save by using special effects, every single film released gets a nice digital makeover and they all end up looking pretty much the same (and a little fake because lets face it, there’s bad cgi going on in Hollywood land). Shorts like this one give me hope. And since a little quirkyness never hurt anyone I hope you’ll like it too.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed

This is a clip from the oldest surviving animated feature film. Made in Germany in 1926 by a woman named Lotte Reiniger who always loved Chinese shadow puppetry and after attending a lecture from Paul Wegener about animation and it’s possibilities, she decided to combine those two techniques.

It is the result of three years worth of work and the collaboration of several famous animators of that time. Of course most of the work was done by Lotte Reiniger herself, which is a wonder if you think that it each figure was made from hard paper and 24 frames were needed per second. That’s a whole lot of tiny pieces of paper, moving over a well lit screen.

So here is a small part of that wonderus film. It’s things like that, that restore my faith in humanity. The fact that one of the very first feature-length animated films ever made was made by a woman didn’t hurt either.

Balance

What an excellent short. I loved the minimalistic style, especially in the end. The meaning in this so very short film can be pulled in so many directions. I feel as if one can begin with the title and end up talking about all that is right and wrong with humanity. Therefore minimalistic design was a very fitting choice. This film doesn’t need to show anything through imagery, its meaning says it all. The world around the characters is there simply to prove a point. Enjoy.

Directors: Wolfgang and Christoph Lauenstein, Germany, 1989. Academy Award for Best Animated Short (1989).

Pure Genius

I instantly loved this video! It is hillarious and ironic and eccentric and cool. Gotta love a warped sense of humor when you find it. So rare and so special. The name of the film, Una Furtiva Lagrima, is the name of an act from an italian opera. After I read the English translation I found it even funnier. Enjoy!

A single furtive tear
from her eyes sprang:
Of those festive, young girls
envious it seemed to be.
What more need I look for?
What more need I look for?
She loves me! Yes, she loves me, I see it. I see it.
Just for an instant the beating of
her beautiful heart I felt!
And my sighs became as one
fleetingly with her sighs!
Her heart beating, her heart beating to feel,
our sighs confounded as one…
Heavens! Yes I could, I could die!
More I can’t ask, I can’t ask.
Oh, heavens! Yes I could! Yes I could die!
More I can’t ask, I can’t ask.
Yes I could die! If I could die of love.