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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 42.86%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 7.14%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 2 user ratings

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Little Otik
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by Greg Muskewitz

"... an often disturbing state of surrealism ..."
5 stars

A wildly perverse, ghastly and grisly tale in the fashion of a (beefed-up) Brothers Grimm nightmare.

The Czech import is the elaborated story of Otesánek, which I am led to believe was adapted from a children’s book — the sort of not-so-subtle morals. The story first centers on a husband and wife, both impotent and thereby unable to have the child that they, and everyone else, wants them to have. While vacationing, the husband digs up a tree root that resembles a human figure — arms, legs, mouth, and even a penis and anus-hole. As a gag, he presents it to his wife, who then accouters it in diapers and homemade clothing, believing that it is real. The delusions worsen when the husband tries to wean her off of the idea by making her fake a pregnancy (which she rushes) and hiding the Stick-Boy, until it apparently becomes a reality and the Little Splinter begins to expand in size after devouring the locals. The exaggerated farrago of textures that the film consists of, grants it a feeling of anxiousness; the preposterous parable suggested develops into an often disturbing state of surrealism where each time one believes they have entered a state of consciousness or recognition, it’s but another form of the nightmare. That is not to say, however, that there is no humor in the fright or absurdity of the perversion (“When’s the last time you varnished him?”). Director Jan Svankmajer is well-established in stop-motion filmmaking according to what I have read, but this is the first dose I’ve had available for myself. The bulk of his non-animated style remains, for the most part, rudimentary, but innocuous. His resilience to close-up shots and zoom-ins of mouths or other bodily holes is curiously conspicuous, though one gathers it fits into the overall Freudian analysis hinted at from repetitious interjections. Just as curiously conspicuous but without a rightful placement, are the quirky infomercials Svankmajer incorporates into the daily observances. And where the live-action dulls, the stop-motion and visual effects are saliently more frightening and realistic than the average usage of computer animation. Through the realm of barmecidal surrealism, the freakish monster I was most thrown back to was the abomination of a baby in Eraserhead. The carrying-on of tradition in style, from Lynch’s early days to Svankmajer’s apparent hey-days, is consistent in the spooky singe of images and symbols, down to the menstruating pancake that recalls Eraserhead’s similarly bleeding cooked-chicken.

With Veronika Zilková, Jan Hartl, Jaroslava Kretschmerová, Pavel Nový and Kristina Adamcová.

[Absolutely to be seen.]

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originally posted: 12/20/03 20:48:12
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User Comments

1/31/03 rue the whirl highly overrated! 2 stars
10/12/02 T. Chesley Shocking and definately worth a look 5 stars
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