Thursday, 1 November 2007

Jiří Barta "The Golem", "Krysař", Domečku, vař!

The Golem is an unfinished work by one of the Czech Republic's greatest film-makers, Jiří Barta. It is based on Gustav Meyrink's 1915 novel of a Frankenstein type creature, created by Rabbi Loew, prowling the dark streets of Prague. The movie trailer (Jiří was unable to obtain sufficient finances to make the movie) is a mixture of live action and distinctive animation as the buildings and characters of Prague morph into crumbling edifices or petrified figures, nightmarishly sculptured to walls. The effect is of thick daubs of oil paint scraped onto a canvas with a palette knife. Personally I found the animated scenes much more convincing than the film of the old Rabbi touring the back streets of modern day Prague. However, Jiří also produced one of the most stunning animations ever with his 55 minute take on the Pied Piper story, Krysar - the link is a short clip revealing how the citizens of the town are transformed to beasts by their greed as the rats move in to steal the grain. With the effect of a medieval oil painting and wooden engravings added to wooden puppets as well as real footage of rats, Jiří has created a grotesque, Gothic Hamelin. There is an analogy between the greedy population and the rats. It is one of the masterpieces of world cinema. I have treated myself to a DVD of the movie on a compilation Jiri Barta: Labyrinth of Darkness. Finally, YouTube has Domečku, vař!, Jiří's 10 minute revolving solar system of life in which the mundane details of existence and relationships circle each other in riveting, spectacular motion. Produced this year I rather doubt Jiří intended it to become freely available so soon so the link is to the AniFest May 2008 festival in Trebon, Czech Republic. Translated as "Sweet Porridge" the movie has a collection of metal figures and domestic objects that are mesmerising to watch. Once again there is an element of real film footage as the mechanical house is wound up by hand at the beginning. As I draw my short collection of Czech reports to a close it is good to report that there are many Czech animators I have still to cover (Jiří Trnka, Karel Zeman, Hermína Tyrlová, Pavel Koutský, Jan Pinkava) and that Jiří Barta, one of the masters of world animation, is as full of ideas and energy as ever. Finally, as the ads for the Czech Republic accumulate on the blog I must point out that I added advertising purely for charity so every click on my sponsors' link - and all earnings from those clicks - will result in their donation to NFCR (National Foundation for Cancer Research).

1 comment:

Colei che... said...

Hi, and thank you for your post. I saw "Krysar" today, and I have to say that it is really a masterpiece. Hope it will be a world known piece. Ciao!