The Late Movies: The Short, Surreal Masterpieces of Jan Švankmajer


Suppressed by his own government and almost unknown in the West until the 1980s, today Czech animator and filmmaker Jan Švankmajer is one of the world's most celebrated animators, and can count Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam among his legions of devoted fans. His work is uniquely bizarre, always creepy, and sometimes disturbing. He seems to have a fascination with food and with inanimate objects coming to life.

Darkness / Light / Darkness could've come right from the nightmares of Kafka. Warning: contains a claymation penis! And a great deal of nightmare-inducing uncanniness.

Meat Love is just what the title suggests -- a love affair between two hunks of steak.

His feature-film take on Alice in Wonderland is completely creepy, with scenes like this one, starring well-dressed skeleton animals.

His feature-length interpretation of Faust is equally wonderful and bizarre, and mixes both live-action and stop-motion animation.

This short film about food is one of the most profound things I've seen in a while. I just can't quite express why.

Here's part two. As one commenter observed, "the poor man eats anything -- the rich man eats everything."