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Little Otik [DVD]

9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Veronika Zilkova, Jan Hartl, Jaroslava Kretschmerova, Pavel Nový, Kristina Adamcova
  • Directors: Jan Svankmajer, Eva Svankmajerova
  • Producers: Jaromír Kallista
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Czech
  • Subtitles: 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: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Cinema Club
  • DVD Release Date: 16 Jun. 2003
  • Run Time: 132 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006G9VZ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,911 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

A dark surreal fable about parental responsibility this film follows Bozena and Karel who long to have a baby. One day Karel uproots a tree stump that looks like a child and Bozena's runaway maternal desires bring it to life. It proves, however, to have an insatiable appetite as it devours both the cat and the postman. In desperation they lock it in the cellar to starve it but their next door neighbour feeds it secretly and is eventually forced to offer Karel and Bozena when leftovers aren't enough.

From the Back Cover

From Jan Svankmajer, award-winning director of Faust, comes a dark, surreal fable about parental responsibility. Borenza and Karel long to have a baby; so does Alzbetka, their next-door neighbour in need of a playmate. One day, Karel uproots a tree stump that looks like a child and, after he’s whittled it into a baby-like form, Bozena’s runaway maternal desire brings it to life. Little Otik (as they name it) has an insatiable appetite, devouring first the cat and then the postman. In desperation, Karel locks the monstrous tree-child in the cellar to starve it to death, but unbeknownst to them Alzbetka adopts the changeling. She feeds Otik in secret, offering him the building’s residents when leftovers aren’t enough.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By molipola on 26 Dec. 2003
Format: DVD
Little Otik is the kind of horrible warning that old fairy stories used to be - in this case, the foolishness and obsession of a childless woman and her husband's indulgence of her ends in supernatural murders by a ravenous, meat-eating oak tree! Otesanek is a carved tree stump that the woman pretends is her baby, even going through a phantom pregnancy, forcing her husband to play along or admit she's gone mad. It's not until other people start to see movement and hear noise in her pram that you realise that the stump really is coming to life. Very soon, the couple can't keep up with the 'baby's appetite, and people start to go missing, including a health visitor and the postman! the couple live in a block of flats, and each of the characters is entertaining (even the old pervert who almost has a heart attack every time he sees the little girl from upstairs). They provide light relief as the horrors in the couples' small flat unravel, with only the little girl as our detective who realises what's going on. This is as dark as it sounds, but it's very funny, and while the incidental animation makes no attempt to be SFX, the creators clearly revel in their craft and the whole mood of the film is exuberantly theatrical. Excellent storytelling.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Louise Stanley on 31 Mar. 2005
Format: DVD
This is just hilarious. Although over-acted, Svankmajer has created a sickening, terrifying update of the Czech fairytale Otesanek, set in a block of flats in an anonymous Czech town and a country dacha where what begins as a benign wooden doll for a childless couple turns into a ravening monstrosity lurking in the cellar, looked after by a girl whose loneliness turns her into the devil incarnate when Otik begins to get too hungry for leftover soup and dumplings.
The stop-motion animation is worthy of the noble tradition of Eastern European film, and does not attempt to make it too realistic, a fact which tends to jar with the gritty reality of the film (particularly the editing when they cut to Otik can give a bit of a jerky effect to otherwise seamless footage) but it fits with the wild and wonderful nature of European storytelling and the tragicomic story, with a slow transition from a hungry baby to a gargantuan godzilla ripping the vital organs out of passersby.
Bozena Horakova's innocence and naivete give some insight into how the mothers of real tearaways feel when their son or daughter goes off the rails, and helps us understand the powerful bond between mother and child which can forgive everything, even chewing up the postman ("well, he *was* going to retire anyway...") or the social worker ("she *was* an arrogant old busybody..."). Her desperation is contrasted with the nonchalant responses of Stadlerova, her husband and daughter, and the other residents, all of whom stand and watch Bozena's descent into madness and Karel's ineffectual attempts to destroy the creature before it is too late.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter Scott-presland on 25 Mar. 2010
Format: DVD
"Little Otik" is a comedy horror flick which tries also to incorporate elements of social satire and folk myth, not entirely successfully. Jan Svankmajer is a veteran Czech director from the heady days of Czech cinema in the 1960s, who has come increasingly into his late flowering since the wall came down. This early background was in animation (I particularly recommend the delightful short, Rakvickana, in which Punch and Judy fight to the death for the custody of a (real) guinea pig - Jan Svankmajer - The Complete Short Films [DVD] [1964]). A satire on greed, capitalism and communism which is a surrealist masterpiece.

This mixture of live action and animation is something Svankmajer excels in. Here he takes the poignant social situation of a childless couple's longing for a baby, and pushes it to surreal extremes. The man, Karel (Jan Hartl), exasperated by the relentless focus of his wife, Bozena (Veronika Zilkova), on the child she can never have, makes her a wooden doll out of a tree root. It's not a very convincing doll, and how exactly this will assuage her is never quite clear, but hey, this is a folk tale. The doll comes to life, and starts eating, and eating. And eating. The parents desparately try to keep up, in the way small birds try to feed the cuckoo in the nest, but nothing is enough. But whatever Otik does, however difficult he becomes, Bozena always loves him, because he is her Baby, and Baby can do no wrong. Karel on the other hand wants to be rid of him, although his resolve is always undermined by his wife and the residual parental feelings he has in spite of himself.

I won't spoil the plot for you because it's a corker.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tim Kidner TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Feb. 2012
Format: DVD
To those who won't go near World cinema and can't even be talked into giving it a try, Little Otik will (justifiably, maybe) bolster their viewpoint with the oft conceived negative aspects they see some world cinema to have with many elements contained within this part-animated, Czech horror/comedy/drama.

It's incoherently weird. A sassy young Czech girl, our protagonist has long blonde ponytails and talks a lot. She has typically Czech parents (or as stereotypes would have us believe); father drinks a lot and watches TV, mother makes vegetable soup with few vegetables - and other various pureed concoctions - all in close up.

They live in the next apartment to a young barren couple. Otik, a tree stump, is dug up by the husband and given to comfort his distraught wife, after they return with the bad news from the fertility clinic. This lump of wood has knots and twigs sprouting where male human bodily parts are situated and look rather obviously so. We are left in no doubt as to which parts are what. 'Little' Otik immediately becomes surrogate son to the mother as she takes to it as her very own.

One of the most creepy things I've seen, ever, is the animated wooden mouth - and moving 'wooden' lips of this log, suckling on the lovely, womanly breast of its 'mother' as it feeds. Superbly done. She beams, besotted, across to her husband - a perplexed and rather nerdy looking office clerk.

To cut a long story short (this is one LONG movie, especially if it's viewed on a commercial TV station - with advert breaks it runs to over 2.5 hours) Otik grows into a giant meat-eating freak, cuckoo-like in its ever open greed for more. First the dog gets 'it', (or was it the cat?
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