Eastern European reaction to totalitarian Communist oppression found expression in surrealism, in retreat into the subjective and fantastical. The enemy might be dealt a deeper blow by indirect mockery and artistic inference than by explicit attack. Whereas realism is limited to the specific, allegory encompasses everything, the entire calamity of the human circus. There is no crueler criticism than laughter.
Jurácek structures what has been called his "masterpiece" around the 3rd book of Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels." His ultimate source, however, is Kafka, who, not coincidentally, he imitated in his first feature, "Josef Killián -- A Character Needing Support." The protagonist, Lemuel Gulliver (Lubomir Kostelka), picaresquely stumbles his way up the ever higher social echelons of the absurdist lands of Balnibari and Laputa, only to find no one at the top, no one in control, a theme familiar, of course, to Kafka. Man's hunger for justice, for moral harmony and logic, for resolution of subconscious conflicts, for at least someone or -thing responsible, are forever frustrated.
The haphazardness and disassociation inherent to dream language tends to inevitable incoherence. It is difficult, if not near impossible, to transpose the entirely idiosyncratic symbols of one subconscious, an author's, into the universal language of art. Very few have been successful (again, Kafka) and then only by resorting to classic mythology, literature, and religion as frames of reference for the personal and subjective. Jurácek, however, for all his visual and dramatic creativity and unbounded imagination, loses hold of his unruly and chaotic subject, piling one absurdity on another, ultimately rambling rather than building or leading anywhere.
Some images work better than others, especially, at the beginning of the film, e.g., a bouncing wooden floor through the cracks of which appear unapproving strangers and the bleached body of Lemuel's drowned childhood sweetheart. The continual chase and harassment of Lemuel by hostile Balnibarians, however, at times seems without purpose, merely there for dramatic effect and to impel events.
Still, the joy ride, the experimental adventurousness of it all, is fun, a welcome release from the oppressive here and now into all things possible and impossible.
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