Otesánek (Little Otik) 20/40

March 12, 2007 at 7:56 am | Posted in Film, Food, Lent | 5 Comments
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I had a very nice week-end, movie-wise. I saw Asoka (India 2001), The Great dictator (USA, 1940) and Otesánek (Little Otik) (Czech Republic, 2000), which was really the one that took the cake. It’s a partly real, partly hand-animated film by surreal director Jan Svankmajer, based on the fairy tale of Otesánek, a root, dug up by a poor worker and made into a doll, as a substitute for the child he and his wife couldn’t afford. But then Otesánek begins to grow and to eat everyone and everything in its way…

In Svankmajer’s film, the Otesánek theme is nicely combined with the story of an infertile couple’s desperate wish for a child where just about anything around them begins to transform into a baby.


The root, originally intended by the husband as a gift to distract his wife a bit, is greeted with such excitement by her that she refuses to ever let go of it again – Veronika Zilkova offering a worrying rendition of a woman sliding into a state of mental disorder.




To be able to welcome the root as her proper child, she stuffs her clothes, beginning to confuse her own acting up with an actual pregnancy. When she ‘gets into labour’, she has her husband drive her to the their garden shed where she keeps the root. He leaves her there, and when he returns, the root has come strangely to life….


Later it will develop the same appetite as the Otesánek from the fairy tale – no spoilers, but just a glimpse of what the story has in stall for the viewer:


LentAnd just to explain the countdown: Yes, I am still participating in Lent – now that I’ve halfway made it, I might as well go all to the end. But no point in a daily Lent message really – Lent still sucks and actually makes me occasionally feel sick. I suppose my body misses the daily early sugar ingestion the most – low blood sugar levels make me feel dizzy. And there goes my Lent message, even though I thought not to have one.


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  1. Have you seen Svankmajer’s short films? There’s a collection out, I think it’s a double VHS, Volume I. and II. (hopefully by now on DVD…) and a lot of them are brilliant! I’ve also got a book on his films called ‘Dark Alchemy’ but have yet to read it. I remember Little Otik being released – it was screened at the ICA (http://www.ica.org.uk/) but I never got round to seeing it.

    BTW when typing Svankmajer into Google just now, some youtube link appeared.. he’s probably on there 😛

    I don’t want to check as I’m on slow ISDN at the moment 😐

  2. I’ve just taken out another film from the library, Conspirators of Pleasure. I had ordered three films for our library (Otesànek, Conspirators of Pleasure and Alice, which appears to be a remake of Alice in Wonderland) which I am going to watch tomorrow. Hadn’t heard of the shorts, but maybe one should order those as well.

  3. I saw this film recently in my Interactive Media class (we have to do a DVD menu layout for the film) and absolutely loved it, despite its awkward creepiness 🙂

  4. it’s the awkward creepiness that made me love it 😛

  5. I’m just gonna watch this movie now. Was reading up a little about it. I’m already excited! ^_^

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