Jan Švankmajer finally gets UK Retrospective

It has come as something of a surprise to find that Jan Švankmajer, at the age of 72, is to be honoured with a retrospective for only the first time in the UK, such is his legendary status both in Surrealism and animation. The tribute programme starting in London (from 1st-23rd June) will include all his shorts and features, including such diversions as working in the pop video format. The overdue assemblage of his many characters and stories amounts to a treat for all acolytes and novices of Švankmajer and of Czech animation in general.

On Tuesday (29th May) he was at the National Film Theatre in London to introduce the first U.K. preview of his new film Lunacy (Sileni) which will begin a two week run at the NFT from 1st June. Lunacy is partly inspired by Marquis De Sade and Edgar Allan Poe. The film has all the usual wicked and witty Švankmajer themes to compliment his signatory live action punctuated by typically grotesque animation. A timid youth is invited by a seemingly deranged Count to his remote chateau and finds a madhouse of blasphemous orgies, a typically Švankmajerian world in which he will find himself trapped.

Švankmajer has gained a reputation over several decades for his distinctive use of stop-motion technique, and his ability to make surreal, nightmarish but somehow entertainingly accessible films full of humour. To judge for yourself, catch up with his work at the NFT which is showing his early shorts to later features in the first weeks of June. A selection of the programme will then go on tour in major UK cities.

See the Czech Centre website for the full Jan Švankmajer programme.

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