Sunday, 14 February 2010

Jan Balej "Džin" ( "One Night in the City" 2007)

Džin should be be viewed as a short in its own right though is in fact the final ten minute segment of Czech director Jan Balej's feature length puppet animation, One Night in the City. Staged in a dimly lit set and featuring two comically grotesque drunks, the tale is a variation of a story that may just be familiar. The pair release a genie from a beer bottle and are granted a wishlist nothing short of that available to a lottery winner, save this is instant. So, what should drunks wish for? Obvious really. Drunks cast out from the bar require more drink and so, inevitably, they squander a resource from heaven. For this genie is no skinflint, he delivers what is required, and is not out to trick his new masters. Needs are met. What goes in has to exit and the genie provides the amenities. Then thoughts turn amorous and the pair are treated to a theme park ride through a bordello. Darker visions are explored in the other vignettes that comprise the original 78 minute film, generously funded to the tune of $700,000 by the Czech government, and one that took six years to make. Consequently, puppets, sets and accoutrements make for magical animation. Here, non-stop cigarette machine, ketchup, beer, fish, pastes and endless slices of sausage. The affable pair are in heaven indeed. As they head off into the dawn, skulls a little sore, one may be assured they've had a fabulous night out.


Niffiwan said...

This was my favourite animated feature film of 2007. It's dark, but it stands out by also being tasteful.

Although by international standards, $700,000 for an animated feature is downright miserly, not generous... also, I think only $100,000 of that came from a government grant in 1998. Variety, though, says "Pic was produced sans state TV coin over six years at a cost of nearly $700,000." The only way of reconciling those two that makes sense to me is that $100,000 was given in 1998 to a short film, then from 2001-2007 they worked on a feature film without state funding. Or Variety could be wrong, I don't know. :p

Pavlovich said...

I really love the full film. There are many stories within that can be seen as individual shorts. This really was one of the better segments.

Ian Lumsden said...

Thank you both. "Generously" seems an odd description I agree. I haven't seen the full film but the descriptions I have read make it most appealing. I'm tempted to buy the DVD. (