February 20, 2007

Jan Svankmajer's Lunacy

Reviewer: Jonathan Marlow
Rating (out of 5): ****½

Czech surrealist, filmmaker, painter and celebrated animator Jan Svankmajer has crafted a number of fantastic films over the decades but arguably none finer than his latest, Lunacy, now finally available on DVD. Adapted loosely from the writings of Edgar Allan Poe and the Marquis de Sade, Svankmajer's "philosophical horror film" explores the ripe territories of the infamous Theatre du Grand Guignol where inmates don't merely take over the asylum but surround us everywhere. Although seemingly set in the eighteenth century, the film accurately embodies our contemporary culture of collapse.

Actors Pavel Liska and Jan Triska, unfortunately little-known in this country, are used to great effect as the proverbial cat and mouse of the tale. But who is the cat and who is the mouse? Lunacy is Svankmajer's masterpiece, surpassing even his exceptional Faust in pure inventiveness.

(See also Michael Guillen's concise review.)

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Posted by cphillips at February 20, 2007 10:42 AM
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