Amateur actors rehearsing "Pictures from the Insects' Life". The actors find themselves living out their characters' roles and hallucinating insects. "Insects", is intercut with the ...
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Amateur actors rehearsing "Pictures from the Insects' Life". The actors find themselves living out their characters' roles and hallucinating insects. "Insects", is intercut with the creative process of the film itself and interviews with the actors about their dreams.Written by
Jan Svankmajer is one of the most important animators I've ever seen, his short films and feature-length films have influenced a heavy deal of my work as well as many other surrealist artists. He's someone who deservedly appears right near the top of the list when people discuss surrealism in film.
Despite being very fond of his style and animations, I wouldn't state that Jan Svankmajer is flawless. In fact, I have many problems with Svankmajer's early feature-length films, particularly Alice.
I found his early films to be very unengaging and tedious for what they were intending to be. And worst of all, they all had an unawareness of how repetetive they were. Svankmajer would frequently repeat shots and edits frequently, occasionally choosing to run with the same gags until they've been beaten into you; they felt like an extremely elongated short film.
It wasn't until Little Otik when I had faith in Svankmajer's feature films. And from there he made two of my favourite films of all-time - Lunacy and Surviving Life were absolutely great in how they incorporated surrealistic imagery to further explore their themes, as well as offering a unique and engaging depiction of our perception of dreams.
After the ending of Surviving Life, I felt as if I had just seen a nice seal to the career of a legend. The sentimental response was perfect for a way to go out.
So you could imagine my response when I first read that Svankmajer was going to mold one last film. It was exciting to know that there was still more exciting material for him to pump out.
The reason why I included this bloated introduction was to emphasize how disappointingly unfortunate it was when I decided to experience Insect.
It were as if Svankmajer undid everything he had learnt and started again with the bold but naive mindset of film that he manifested at the beginning of his filmography.
Like his early films, the worst part about Insect is the pacing and awareness.
In Insect, Svankmajer decided to splice in three different types of films. The first film is a documentary of the making of Insect, the second is a film about the making of a play, and the third is an adaptation. And the films never meld together. This makes for a very disjointed and unengaging experience, as you're constantly being spoiled to any scene that involves any significant event before it even happens. Sterilizing the potential effect and emotion of the scene, almost to the point of you questioning if what happened was even necessary. They were so disjointed that you could probably cut out each of these scenes, so that you just have the film.
This made me question if Svankmajer even understood that these jarring splices would ruin the mood, and if it was intended then it ruined the care one might potentially have in the scene.
Furthermore, this film becomes incredibly monotonous due to the frequently repeated gags. One of these gags consist of one of the actors not placing a pillow under their stomach to simulate being pregnant, it wasn't funny the first time they used the joke, nor was it funny the additional times they thought of re-using the joke. It honestly felt like an endurance test at times. It was like the feeling you receive when an old friend attempts to make you laugh with an old joke that initially made you laugh. It isn't funny,but he constantly repeats the joke while being under the impression that you find his joke humourous.
There isn't a hint of subtlety with the character development, everything these characters represent are literally spouted loud and crystal-clearly so that you don't potentially get confused that one character is dumb, or one character is squeamish. It was just insulting how explicit the film was about its story, and characters.
In terms of the surrealistic imagery - the one component which fans admire about his films, there was barely if anything memorable about this film. The excuse that the characters are sinking into their roles is an interesting idea, which could've complimented the film further more if the script had more to it.
As it stands, the most interesting parts of this film are the scenes in which they are re-enacting the play - the only part which wasn't created for this film.
I wish that I could've enjoyed Insect, if you enjoyed this film then I'm actually happy that you enjoyed Insect. Although I honestly wouldn't recommend this film to anyone unless you really wanted to watch this film, it honestly wouldn't of made a difference if I hadn't of watched the film.
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