13 user 4 critic
A nondescript man is trapped in a sinister flat, where nothing seems to obey the laws of nature.


Jan Svankmajer


Jan Svankmajer


Learn more

More Like This 

Rakvickarna (1966)
Animation | Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Two puppets, Punch and Joey, do battle to the death over the custody of a live guinea pig.

Director: Jan Svankmajer
Stars: Nad'a Munzarová, Jirí Procházka, Bohuslav Srámek
Hra s kameny (1967)
Animation | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Stones of different shapes and colors live and die together.

Director: Jan Svankmajer
Do pivnice (1983)
Animation | Short | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A little girl goes down to the basement cellar to fetch some potatoes, and finds all her hidden fears about the cellar depicted in animated form.

Director: Jan Svankmajer
Stars: Monika Belo-Cabanová, Olga Vronská, Aleksandr Letko
Animation | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

An eight-part portrait of animal species in the different biological classes, accompanied by a different style of music. Each animation mixes drawings, pictures, real animals and animated skeletons.

Director: Jan Svankmajer
Animation | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Various objects are having a sunny outing together in the nature.

Director: Jan Svankmajer
Animation | Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Three surreal depictions of failures of communication that occur on all levels of human society.

Director: Jan Svankmajer
Et Cetera (1967)
Animation | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A small, animated figure learns how to use a whip, a pair of wings and a house.

Director: Jan Svankmajer
Jídlo (1993)
Animation | Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

BREAKFAST: After eating breakfast, a man is transformed into an elaborate dumb-waiter-style breakfast dispenser - and the same fate befalls the man who obtains breakfast from him. LUNCH: ... See full summary »

Director: Jan Svankmajer
Stars: Ludvík Sváb, Bedrich Glaser, Jan Kraus
Animation | Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Two pieces of meat fall in love.

Director: Jan Svankmajer
Zahrada (1968)
Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Josef shows his friend Frank his garden and his rabbits. Frank is most interested in the unsettling fact that Josef's garden fence is entirely made up of living people holding hands.

Director: Jan Svankmajer
Stars: Jirí Hálek, Ludek Kopriva, Míla Myslíková
Animation | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A man, apparently on the run, takes shelter in a dilapidated house. Every day, he drills a hole through a wall and looks into one of the rooms, each time seeing a different surreal vision...

Director: Jan Svankmajer
Stars: Václav Borovicka
Flora (1989)
Animation | Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The last moments of a creature made out of fruits and vegetables.

Director: Jan Svankmajer


Cast overview:
Ivan Kraus Ivan Kraus ... Man
Juraj Herz ... Visitor


A nondescript man is trapped in a sinister flat, where nothing seems to obey the laws of nature.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

9 November 2006 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

The Flat See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Krátký Film Praha See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


One of the inscriptions on the wall reads 'RULDOLPH II', reference to the sixteenth century Holy Roman Empire and King of Bohemia who was considered a passionate patron of the arts while he lived in Prague. In his service as court portraitist was Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo, a key source of inspiration for Svankmajer's films. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A suffocating and sardonic short-form satire from Švankmajer
14 April 2008 | by ThreeSadTigersSee all my reviews

My first experience of Czech animator and filmmaker Jan Švankmajer's unusual cinematic world came via the more traditionally structured film Little Otik (2000). In that film we had the notion of a wooden puppet-like figure being brought to life in a more psychological reinterpretation of the world of Pinocchio, as well as various Eastern European folktales; with Svankmajer's usually startling imagination held back by some literally wooden performances and a rather flat visual presentation. With that, his most recent film in mind, we come to the film in question; with Byt, or The Flat (1968), standing as Svankmajer's earliest experiment in live-action film-making, and one that continues a number of themes and motifs developed in his previous work, in particular The Last Trick (1964) and The Garden (1968).

Even with this in mind, Byt is an entirely different kind of film from what we might normally expect to see from Švankmajer, with the live action elements driving the story, while the more broadly recognisable aspects of stop-motion animation are utilised as mere special effects. Regardless, the story here is truly fascinating; with Švankmajer creating an extraordinary work of pure, cinematic imagination that not only impresses and excels on the level of pure entertainment, but also offers deeper themes and interpretations presented as highly intelligent satire. It also shows Švankmajer tapping into the territory of his fellow countryman and contemporary Roman Polanski, and in particular, Polanski's cinema of confinement. In this respect you could draw obvious parallels with a film such as Repulsion (1965), not to mention the more recognisable psychological themes presented in other Polanski works, such as Knife in the Water (1962) and Cul-de-sac (1966).

You could also argue that there was something of cross-reference of influences going on here, with Švankmajer taking influence from Repulsion whilst Polanski would take certain elements from this film and apply them to his later flawed masterwork, The Tenant (1976). However, whereas Polanski's work was intended to terrorise the audience, both on a playful and entirely devastating level, the sense of suffocating claustrophobia and mocking surrealism presented by Švankmajer here is somewhat sardonic; intended to entertain as well as provoke, and clearly offering something of a political comment on the state of post-Second World War Europe. The fact that the film features an appearance from fellow filmmaker Juraj Herz is also interesting, with Herz creating one of the greatest films of the Czech New Wave, The Cremator (1968). As with that particular film, Byt makes obvious references to the treatment of the Jews both before and during the Holocaust, and the general sense of fear and paranoia that was immediately recognisable to European filmmakers of Švankmajer's generation.

There are of course deeper themes and issues expressed in the film than this, but your understanding and interpretation of them can easily come secondary to your enjoyment of Švankmajer's great style and lasting atmosphere. The film could also be seen as something on an influence on Sam Raimi's classic no-budget shocker The Evil Dead (1983), with the idea of a character confined to a single location that reacts against him in a way that is both horrifying and surreal. This similarity is also illustrated by the use of stop-motion animation alongside elements of live action, something that may have also been an influence to Japanese filmmaker Shinya Tsukamoto on imaginative and expressionistic films like Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1988) and Tokyo Fist (1995).

Despite misgivings from certain Švankmajer devotees who feel that the over-reliance on live action animations is ineffective, this film for me ranks amongst the very best of the filmmaker's short-form, experimental works. The mood and style created by Švankmajer here is extraordinary, with the filmmaker creating a range of emotions from terror to confusion and even slapstick comedy. In this respect, he is aided by the great performance from Ivan Kraus as the man trapped in this confusing psychological space, and by the subtle use of metaphor and symbolism that seems to suggest so much, without offering any kind of easy answers.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 13 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Comedy Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular comedy titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed