Ruka (1965) Poster


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Trnka's Final Masterpiece!
meddlecore10 August 2005
An absolutely brilliant film! Jiri Trnka, the master of puppet animation, confronts totalitarianism in this, his final, film. It would be banned by the Communist Czechoslovakian government (at the time), despite taking the country's highest animation award.

In this dark and entertaining short film, an artist attempts to create a new pot for his favourite plant. He happily makes his creations while dreaming that his plant will grow to be a beautiful rose. All of a sudden, he here's a knock at the door, and in comes this giant omnipotent hand, that tries to force the artist to make statues in it's likeness. The artist resists as best he can, but he eventually becomes overwhelmed by the constant attempts, by the hand, to force him to conform. He becomes brainwashed; an intellectual zombie. At this point the hand attaches strings to the artist, puts him in a cage, and uses him to make hand statues. All the while glorifying the artist's work and awarding him with medals and honours.

The artist's inner lust to be able to express himself freely is what helps him prevail over his indoctrination, and enables him escape his prison, whether it be literal or in his mind, and return to his home where he now must live in constant fear of the wrath of the omnipotent hand. He shuts himself in, thinking he is out of the reach of the almighty hand, but in the process he puts his plant and pot up high, hoping it is out of the reach of the hand, only to have it fall on his head and kill him. The artist is inevitably destroyed by his own creation. All because of the constant fear he had to live with once he escaped the hand's strings. Once dead, the hand paints the artist as a great person, a national hero. Unfortunately not in the circumstances or for the reasons that the artist would like to be remembered.

Trnka's condemnation of Totalitarian society, and their lack of right for free expression is dark, damning and an amazingly animated. It is no wonder the government banned it as this is the sort of media that people admire, and would perhaps even listen to. That was obviously not acceptable. An amazing example of an artists civil disobedience and the impact it can have. And still quite relevant today for many parts of the world, from the US to the middle east. A must see and definite 10 out of 10! Talk about going out with a bang!
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Trnka's last masterpiece
Jiøí Trnka made his last animated short an indictment of totalitarism, which caused him trouble in his native Czechoslovakia. The elements are few, the symbolisms simple, and his trademark ornaments almost absent here, allowing the viewer to concentrate on the fable. A man in his room dedicates to pottery and to take care of his only plant. But suddenly a huge hand enters the room and orders him to make a statue of itself. The man refuses and he's persecuted by the ominous gloved hand. In these days, where the impression of reality factor seems to be erased from most animations that try to replace the real world, it is refreshing to watch a film, which makes its technique part of the enjoyment.
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Brilliant nightmarish imagery
Andre Raymond29 March 2010
I saw this film when I was a young child on television (thank-you Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and had nightmares about it for years afterwards.

Trnka was one of the mentors for Bratislav Pojar, one of Canada's National Film Board's best animators. Pojar was, in turn a mentor and collaborator for the great Drouin. If you like Trnka you should see "Night Angel".

The symbolism is obvious, but deftly used. The oppositions of beauty and life (the plant) are placed in opposition with the anonymity of the gloved hand. The poor puppet hero is condemned despite a lack of political agenda.

What I most remembered was the feeling of oppression in the decor. The small room where the action takes place is the character's entire world. The invasion by the hand is a complete violation of that world.

Beautiful and haunting film. I found a copy of this and other wonderful shorts by Trnka at the public library and showed it to my own kids. A must see.
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framptonhollis15 October 2017
31 Days of Spookoween: DAY THIRTEEN

Film #13: Ruka (The Hand) (1965)

Review: At first, it feels like a slightly black, but still innocent enough, surrealist comedy, but it soon declines into total, terrifying darkness that ends on a fittingly somber note. "Ruka" is one of the most influential and intelligent stop motion films ever made as it contains a powerful message that is expressed in an engaging and bizarre manner. It contains a different sort of "horror"...a type of horror rooted in both fantasy and reality, a type of horror that is layered by symbolism, meaning, and freaky animation. The visuals are vibrant in a semi-subtle way, the entire mood clearly influenced the great Jan Svankmajer, and thank God it did because this is the sort of atmospheric I crave when I view a film like this!

"Ruka" may be odd and it may not be the type of film you show your friends for a good laugh, but it is still a vital piece of animation history and quite possibly one of the greatest and scariest movies ever made.
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about totalitarianism
Kirpianuscus5 October 2017
a little potter. and his plant. a huge hand. and a statue. one of the most impressive animation. for the simplicity of great art. and for its status of warning. against totalitarian regime. about the resistance against it. about forms of freedom. and its price. so, more than a film. a document. and a testimony. about art as form of free speech in dark ages. this detail does "Ruka " special. a film about fragility. and about its delicate force. as inspired support. for reflection.
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A Fable About Art, Freedom and Tyranny
Eumenides_04 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
My discovery of the cinema of Jan Svankmajer opened My eyes to a whole tradition of Czech animation, of which Jirí Trnka was a pioneer. His Ruka is one of the finest, most technically-impressive animated movies I've ever seen.

A potter wakes up and waters his plant. Then he goes about making a pot. But in comes the huge hand which crashes the pot and demands that the potter make a statue of itself. He casts the hand out, but soon it returns and imprisons him in a bird cage where he's forced to sculpt a stone hand. He sets about it, fainting from exhaustion, but eventually completes the task.

In a marvellous sequence of metacinema, the potter uses a candle to burn his visible puppet strings, which keep him in thrall, and he escapes back home. He shuts himself in and is accidentally killed by his own beloved plant when it falls on his head.

This movie doesn't hide the fact it's pure animation, unlike modern movies that strive to be realistic (why?). The hand, for instance, is clearly someone's hand in a glove. Everything else is clay. Strings are visible and are part of the narrative, making it a precursor of the movie Strings. The atmosphere is eerie: that hand going after the little potter managed to instill more dread in me than many horror movies combined.

The movie is obvious but it avoids being totally manipulative for its simplicity. it's a fable about artistic freedom and tyranny which can't help winning the heart and mind of anyone who holds freedom as a natural right.
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An exceptional anti-totalitarian parable done with a stop-motion doll
MartinHafer29 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Generally, I am not a huge fan of stop-motion films and at first RUKA didn't capture my attention. However, knowing that this film was made in the repressive Czechoslovakia during the Soviet-domination era, the more I watched the film, the more I realized just how subversive this innocent looking little film was. This subtext really made the film come to life and gives it real staying power as both a work of art and a political statement.

The sad little film is done without any dialog, but it's pretty clear what is happening. A cute little wooden man is making a clay pot and having a lovely time when suddenly a meddling animated hand appears and destroys the pot--making it into a sculpture of a hand instead. Well, the wooden man tries again and again to chase away the hand and do his own thing. However, over time the hand becomes more and more insistent and eventually cages the man. And, by the end, the man is dead thanks to the meddling hand and the hand, in a sign of real hypocrisy, gives the man a hero's funeral!

As I said, this film is an obvious attempt by the brave Jirí Trnka to criticize his domineering government. Not surprisingly, though Czechs loved the film and gave it critical praise, the state (i.e., the hand) banned this little parable. Sadly, Trnka did not live to see his nation liberated a little more than two decades later during the co-called "Velvet Revolution".
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He didn't save the best for last (I hope!)
Warning: Spoilers
"Ruka" or "The Hand" is an 18-minute short film from Czechoslovakia and this one came out in 1965, which means it had its 50th anniversary last year. It was the last directorial effort by Czechoslovakian filmmaker Jirí Trnka and today we know that it was probably also his biggest success because of the BAFTA nomination it scored. It lost to Norman McLaren's entry by the way. Anyway, if you have seen some other works by Trnka, you will realize that his style is obvious and you can easily identify him as the man behind it. Recognition value is always something positive, but sadly, in my opinion, it's almost the only positive aspect here. It's about a potter who life gets changed considerably for the worse when a big white hand (glove?) appears in his home and starts to harass and bully the poor little guy. So yeah, you see it is an absurd film. That's nothing negative necessarily though if the movie manages to deliver in other areas than realism then. but this one really does not. The animation is okay, but the story is way too long and dragging, even for a film that stays under 20 minutes. There may be references about the filmmaker's country in terms of life, society and maybe also politics, but you won#t get these unless you really know about the history. The good thing here is that there is no dialogue, so you won't need subtitles if you don't speak the Czech language. ItÄs all about sound effects from the audible perspective. But is it really a good thing? I'm not sure and I don't recommend the watch.
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