SURREALISM – JAN SVANKMAJER AND HIS FILMSWhy are Jan Svankmajer"s films one of the major achievements of surrealism? Table of ContentsIntroduction-3Surrealism-4Thoughts and Perception About Surrealism- 11The Surrealist of Czechoslovakia – Culture and Ideology- 14Surrealism and the Cinema- 18Surrealism and Politics- 22Surrealism – Jan Svankmajer and his films- 23Conclusion- 39Bibliography- 42IntroductionWhen the animated works of Jan Svankmajer appeared to me on screen, I was intrigued to understand the question of how and where the magic of the artificial world he created far represented from my waking reality could communicate with such articulation. It is where the reality within the world of animation, convinces me that there is an underlying truth on the representation of reality.
This question has then formulated questions towards understanding the workings of the human mind and perception of reality, which then goes back to understanding the psychology of the creator himself by understanding his background, culture, beliefs, wave of movement, and then into analyzing how his works represent the truth within the human ‘reality’. Jan Svankmajer’s films are considered one the major achievements of surrealism and to this date the issue on whether this supposition is factual remains unreciprocated.
The objective of this research is to find initially the fundamental nature of Surrealism, its history, principles, beliefs, goals, and directions. Explore the emergence of Surrealism in Czechoslovakia and the works of prominent Czech Surrealist Jan Svankmajer. A comprehensive discussion on surrealism will come first in our chapters. This includes a brief history of the surrealist movement as to how it came to life in Czechoslovakia. This is followed by various perceptions on surrealism and its movement, the issues of ‘absolute freedom’ and the revolt against realism.
On the subsequent chapter, the discussion will focus on the rise of Surrealism in Prague, the Czech cultures and ideology, the condemnation of the movement from both Stalinism and Fascism, and the emergence of surrealist animator Jan Svankmajer. We also carried out and investigation on the link of Surrealism to Cinema, politics, and the works of Jan Svankmajer. Finally, conclude by responding to our thesis and present our final analysis. SurrealismAndre’ Breton, a young writer and artist in the 1920s according to Gardiner (2000), earned the sobriquet the ‘Pope of Surrealism’ as he is generally acknowledge as the leader and main theoretician of the Surrealist movement (p. 32).
However, knowing Breton as the leader is not acceptable enough to link Surrealism to art. Before Surrealism come to existence, Breton was a member of the Paris Dadaist who declaimed the follies of war, nationalism, hypocritical morality, and the tenets of bourgeois rationality (Gardiner 2000 referring to the work of Short 1979). Moreover, this group was known to have an inclination for scandal and provocation that gave them a great deal of public notoriety (Gardiner 2000:32).
Jacques Vache’ whom Breton met while working as an orderly in a mental hospital in 1916, and at that time acquired a kind of iconic status, rejects just about anything, from war, patriotism, religion, art, and so on and later commits suicide by opium overdose, came to exemplify the Dadaist philosophy of negativism and intuitive repulsion. To Breton this is the theory of total insubordination undermining the world, dropping everything that then seemed special to petty scale, despoiling all in its path.
Breton adopted this extreme Vachean viewpoint, which is evident in some of his writings and in the Second Manifesto of Surrealism. For him a plain Surrealist act is similar to holding a pistol in hand and firing blindly into the crowd (Gardiner 2000:32).