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A Pre-Dinner Movie

February 21, 2012

I went through a period during my early teenage years where I wanted to see every strange, foreign or indie film that Blockbuster had to offer. This was  before the days of Netflix, Wikipedia and IMDb, and I would be my parents to drive me 15 minutes to the nearest movie rental place every Friday and Saturday. This is when I discovered the films of Jim Jamusch and the Coen Brothers and Jeunet and Caro. And this is when I became a movie nerd. It doesn’t take much to get hooked.

Jan Svankmajer is one of those really strange, really obscure filmmakers that I just happened to come across that year. I acquired a copy of his version of the classic Faust story on VHS (remember those??). Svankmajer’s Fausthowever, included a blend of live actors, marionettes, and claymation. I haven’t actually seen the movie since then, but I can vaguely remember some human-on-marionette romance that creeped 13 year-old me out big time. The details of the movie are a little hazy, because it was almost 10 years ago that I watched it, but I do know it inspired me to seek out some of Svankmajer’s other works. Many of his short films are available on YouTube, and a lot of them are perfectly bite-sized for afternoon watching. Yes, they’re weird. Really weird. But also really cool. I mean, claymation and stop motion take so much time and patience. After watching a few of his films, you can see that Svankmajer is a dedicated man at the very least. I also happen to think he is a talented artist and master storyteller.

The Svankmajer film I’m going to recommend, though, is only 17 minutes long. It’s called Food. Split into three parts (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, of course), Food is really three separate stories that will make you anything but hungry. The Lunch segment (watch it here: is really my favorite. In it, two diners, a wealthy man and a hobo, cannot get the attention of the waiter, so they proceed to eat EVERYTHING around them. The end is a great piece of social commentary.

Jan Svankmajer


Nothing is quite what it seems in Svankmajer’s movies, and his use of sound is really the most fantastic part. The squishes, squelches and squeaks, along with the visuals, just might turn your stomach. But really, they’re worth watching, and they’re even better to show people.

Picture courtesy of


From → Movies

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