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Jan Svankmajer - The Complete Short Films [DVD]

Jan Svankmajer    Suitable for 15 years and over   DVD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
Price: £28.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Jan Svankmajer - The Complete Short Films [DVD] + The Quay Brothers - The Short Films 1979-2003 (Two Discs) [DVD] + Alice (DVD + Blu-ray) [1988]
Price For All Three: £50.34

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Product details

  • Directors: Jan Svankmajer
  • Format: Full Screen, Black & White, Colour, Subtitled, PAL
  • Language: English, Czech, French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: BFI DVD Publishing
  • DVD Release Date: 28 May 2007
  • Run Time: 313 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000PE0JAW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,197 in Film & TV (See Top 100 in Film & TV)


Product Description

Drawing on a tradition of Surrealism based in the capital of magic and alchemy, Prague, Jan Svankmajer uses a range of techniques, combining live action, puppet theatre, stop-motion and drawn animation, claymation, cut-outs, re-edited archive footage and montage. This collection spans almost 30 years, from 'The Last Trick' (1964) to 'Food' (1992). All the classics are included - 'Punch and Judy', 'The Flat', 'Jabberwocky', 'Dimensions of Dialogue', 'Down to the Cellar' and both versions of 'The Ossuary', alongside many British video premieres.

Product Description

Jan Svankmajer - The Complete Short Films 1964-1992

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is no Pixar... 21 Jun 2010
On the back of this monumental release from the BFI there is a quote from Anthony Lane of The New Yorker:

"The world is divided into two unequal camps: those who have never heard of Jan Svankmajer...and those who happen upon his work and know that they have come face to face with genius."

A more truthful statement is found nowhere else. Though Svankmajer's work is known only to a few it is wonderfully refreshing that the BFI took the time (and probably money) to make his entire body of short films available to the public. Spread over 2 discs and running from 1964-1992, these 26 films are the finest examples of Surrealist animation you can get. This is truly bizarre stuff and most likely will not appeal to those used to, say, Pixar/Disney. The total lack of computer imagery means that the films have a very tactile, palpable feel -- you can actually SEE the fingermarks in the clay.

The films themselves are, of course, highly imaginative and each one evokes very different emotions, whether it be the madcap routines of The Last Trick or the brutally creative deaths in Virile Games. Nearly all of them illustrate the Surrealist principal of the inanimate object come to life in the everyday world: here chunks of meat get up and dance, there a sailor-suit floats around a nursery, heads made of mundane objects devour each other in homage to Arcimboldo. Despite the ever-present forces of the Communists in Czechoslovakia (as explained in one of the documentaries on the third disc) it is incredible to think how Svankmajer and his team of animators were still able to create this little odities. The films are also rife with references to literature favoured by the Surrealists, such as Poe and Walpole, and artists such as the aforementioned Arcimboldo.
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77 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another kind of love 10 Jun 2007
At last! The finest collection of Svankmajer short films yet! If anybody can make it, the BFI in London has already released the set - I have my copy - before the official release date of 25th June.

It doesn't disappoint - the original version of the Ossuary is in here with the soundtrack that was banned upon release in 1970 - well worth seeing for the irascible 'tour guide'.

Special features include the first film that Svankmajer worked on - Johannes Doktor Faust (1958), excerpts from Nick Carter in Prague (1977), a French documentary - Les Chimeres des Svankmajer (2001), an interview for Czech TV in 2001, the homage to Jan Svankmajer by the Brothers Quay - The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer (1984) and a trailer for Sileni (Lunacy).

This is the ultimate collection of shorts and more than lives up to expectations. Having loved Svankmajer since Channel 4 started showing his films in the UK in the 80s, this collection has been long overdue, and thankfully the wait is over.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Plethora Of Dreamlike Excursions 16 Jun 2010
The work of Jan Svankmajer is a collaboration of surrealistic imagery in the realms of magic and alchemy which induces a nightmarish spectre created from the usage of: claymation, stop-motion, drawn animation, puppet theatre, live action, cut-outs and montages. This incredible collection includes all of his shorts from 1964 - 1992 and it contains a glut of extras with a fresh examination on his unique blend of strangeness.

Some of these shorts are similar, in essence, to Peter Gabriel's Slegdehammer video; Svankmajer infuses a wide range of objects with a spirit that transcends them from the ordinary objects they are into incredible phantasms of mysterious intrigue. Others, incorporate the the painstaking process employed by Nick Park for his Wallace and Gromit escapades. His award winning short, Dimensions Of Dialogue, was placed in Terry Gilliam's top ten animations of all time. As well as Gilliam, Svankmajer has played a key role in influencing a host of filmmakers including the dark and twisted worlds created by Tim Burton in Vincent and Corpse Bride. If you enjoyed any of these animation styles there's a strong possibility you'll enjoy Svankmajer's work.

Some of the earliest shorts do have a minute crackling sound and show signs of staircasing artifacts but the rest of the prints display no signs of ware and have been superbly transferred; mainly in 4:3 fullscreen but a few have been anamorphically enhanced. Included is optional english subtitles for the dialogue that are easy to read and, more importantly, unobtrusive.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb compilation of Svankmajer's works
This is the work of a genius, who has influenced artists all over the world. It is incredible that so many people are not familiar with his name and work.
Published 9 months ago by Rogelio Vallejo
5.0 out of 5 stars Not really my thing - but . . .
If you warm to Svankmajer I think you will regard this as absolutely cracking value. It didn't really float my boat, but then I am a bit too traditional in my tastes.
Published 20 months ago by Benghal Lancer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest
I promise I'm not one of those who easily throws around superlatives, but this is one of the finest collections of short films I've ever known, and the BFI has compiled it... Read more
Published on 10 April 2011 by Dan & Tues
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opener... literally!
If you don't know Svankmajer's work then it would be difficult to describe it. Think of a dark and scary version of 'Morph' or Peter Gabriel's 'Sledgehammer' pop video. Read more
Published on 29 Nov 2010 by Richard Francis
5.0 out of 5 stars Review
Definitive BFI offering on this master of the short film genre who has inspired many of the best people in this field. Read more
Published on 28 Sep 2010 by B.Graham
4.0 out of 5 stars Jan Svankmajer - The Complete Short Films [DVD] [1964]
Thought provoking, challenging films with stop motion work which will inspire animators looking to escape from the cute, cuddly and moralising face that animation often plays.
Published on 24 Jan 2010 by cartoon dog
5.0 out of 5 stars Animated intrigue
For those who are unsure what they'll be getting with this, as I was...

A mixture of live action and stop-motion animation, Svankmajer's work is more surrealistic than... Read more
Published on 21 Jun 2008 by S. Bentley
5.0 out of 5 stars Hats of for BFI
I've been a fan of Jan Svankmajer since 2002/2003(almost religiously a fan), and I have most of the releases by Svankmajer. Read more
Published on 1 Dec 2007 by Andreas Moss
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius
OMG! I've been waiting years for this release. I've seen most of these films and they are utterly wonderful. But I've never seen (e.g. Read more
Published on 19 Jun 2007 by A Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily one of the most exciting DVD releases of 2007!
Having been a longtime fan of the genius of the great Czech surrealist filmmaker's work, I'm pleased to see the BFI offering up a lavish set of Svankmajer's short films. Read more
Published on 28 May 2007 by Aaron
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