The Surrealist Jan Švankmajer

Hello netizens, 

I would like to introduce you to an artist that didn't fail to shock me. His short films transport their viewers into a dream like trance and leave an everlasting impression on them. This artist is Jan Švankmajer. 

Jan Švankmajer was born in the year Czech surrealist group was formed, 1934, and which he will be heavily involved in through out his career. He is a filmmaker with nearly 30 films, created using multiple techniques ranging from live-action, stop motion and puppet work.

He is a visionary, that strives to give life to objects and allow them to move freely. Inanimate objects in his films usually stood as metaphors for ideas or emotions, and communicated to the viewers. Jan Švankmajer's films contained surrealism or surrealistic philosophies, and he considers his film "Conspirators of Pleasure" to be the most surrealist film he has created.

From "Darkness Light Darkness"

Today I watched his film "Darkness Light Darkness" which was made in 1989, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It made me think about it when it ended, and attempt
at finding an answer. I can't say I have found the real message behind his film, but it allowed me to be imaginative and use my mind - which is what art that contains surrealism should achieve.

Darkness Light Darkness is a seven minutes long short film. It begins with an arm that builds the rest of its body. The medium used is clay, and the realism achieved in some frames is impressive.

From "Darkness Light Darkness"
The use of clay could be seen as a reference to God creating humans, and the experimentation with the placement of the body parts illustrates the cluelessness of humans. The arm tries to solve the puzzle by placing the body parts in places it perceives as correct, but as soon as more parts appear the placement changes.

It could be a metaphor to how humans find answers to mysteries they are faced with. When information is limited, the explanation is bound to be flawed. However, as soon as we uncover more of the mystery, the pieces start coming together.

Moreover, what stroke me the most from the film, is the ending. It felt unsatisfying. Although all the pieces were in place. The creature, or human, created is unsatisfied by the result and stuck inside a crammed box. The horrific expression on its face, left an unsettling feeling as I stared at the computer's screen.

The life Jan Švankmajer has given to the separate body parts, is a main element of surrealism in his film. The unrealistic situations shown and brought to life, and the free line of thoughts creates a peace of work that is dream like.

Something you would only experience while you are asleep.



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