Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Capital Celluloid - Day 337: Tuesday Dec 6

Surviving Life (Svankmajer, 2010): ICA, Various times, ALL WEEK

Time Out review:

As with his 2005 film, ‘Lunacy’, Czech maestro Jan Svankmajer (‘Alice’, ‘Little Otik’) appears at the beginning of this ingenious psychoanalytical comedy to deliver a direct-to-camera statement. After admitting that the only reason this new film employs dotty paper-cut out animation was to save on actors’ fees (because, as he rightly points out, ‘photographs don’t eat’), he quotes German scientist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, who says, ‘Only the fusion of dreams and reality can make up a complete human life.’

Svankmajer’s film is about an office drone who strikes up an affair with a gorgeous woman in red. They rendezvous in his dreams. He discovers a method of artificially stimulating his dreams so he can play out this extended fantasy. But the more time he spends in this dream world, the more the swarms of eccentric erotic symbols (smashed melons, broken eggs, a teddy bear with a giant phallus) start to take on life-altering meanings. Expounding on (and cheekily refuting) Freudian and Jungian dream logic while dazzling the eye with animation that falls somewhere between ‘South Park’, ‘The Yellow Submarine’ and Terry Gilliam’s work for the Pythons, this manages to be Svankmajer’s most poignant and  fully-formed feature to date. It retains all of his hallmarks, from the grotesque close-up photography to his fixations with food and sex. Its masterstroke, though, is the zestfully ironic way it harnesses the skewed workings of the subconscious, confirming Svankmajer as a master filmmaker and knocking films like ‘Inception’ and ‘The Matrix’ into a cocked hat. Just dreamy!' David Jenkins


Here is the trailer.

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