More Svankmajer, more Snow 28/40

March 20, 2007 at 7:21 am | Posted in Alps, Film | 2 Comments
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I took out another Svankmajer movie, this time real, um, Fetish stuff. Spiklenciu slasti (1996), or: Conspirators of Pleasure. Although not the types of fetishes that you’d expect in fetish movie. No S/M, no bodily fluids, no intercourse. No dialog either, which is probably the most remarkable part of it. There is not point in me giving you a plot synopsis, but I’d like to mention some plot landmarks: The killing of a chicken, the reconstruction of a chicken mask from porn magazines and feathers, the theft of fox fur, physical treatment with a rolling pin, television, carp fish, bread crumbs and breathing techniques. Some scenes are very Cronenbergian, in particular the television plot line which is often reminiscent of Videodrome (1983).

And as is typical for Svankmajer, it also has some really cool animation stuff in it, for instance stop and go motion with live characters who seem to be sliding across the floor. I like that a lot. The only thing that began to irritate me a wee bit was the excessive use of designed sound. For instance, the modeling of a chicken head from clay is made to sound like a jurassic monster rising from the swamp. Not everybody’s cup of tea. But it’s still refreshing to see a bit of formerly Eastern European cinema (can one say that the Czech Republic has meanwhile arrived in the West?), which has a a refreshingly un-exhausted imagery to offer to the Western eye. Some screenshots:

Conspirators of Pleasure

Conspirators of Pleasure

Conspirators of Pleasure

Turning to the weather department: Two weeks ago I had proclaimed the arrival of spring in the far West of Austria. How wrong I was! The snow we’ve been missing for most of the winter has now come down on us. The windows of my attic flat are completely snowed in, and snow keeps falling. And that two days before the official 1st day of spring! Astronomically, spring begins on the 19th to 22nd of March, with the spring equinox (Tagundnachtgleiche in German): that’s when the sun aligns with the equator and day and night are of the same length (the day during equinox is actually 14 minutes longer, Wikipedia tells me). This year, 2007, spring will begin on the 21st of March, 7 minutes past midnight (Coordinated Universal Time, 1:07 Central European Time). If the weather stays like this until and into the weekend, I’ll finally get on the train to see the Arlberg, considering that I live ‘vor’m Arlberg’ (in front of the Arlberg). And I doubt that I’ll ever live this close to the Arlberg again.

Here’s a shot taken from my French Balcony. Freshest finest snow! What I liked to do in the past was to fetch some snow, directly and fresh from the roof, put it in a bowl and top it with some fruit syrup – and there goes your fruit sorbet. But I won’t break Lent just for a bit of sweetened snow! Although last night, in my dream, I did it again: I secretly ate chocolate, deciding that one didn’t count:-x



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  1. Wow, that looks quite weird (the film, I mean). I am not quite sure what to do with it. What is your reading? One question I always have when I see something like this is the old Lukascian one: why this specific work of art in this specific moment in history? It seems like it should be part of the surrealist strand of postmodernism, but for that it came too late. Hmm…
    What role does desire play–esp. in relation to the culture industry (just looking at that TV eroticizing shot)? That’s always an interesting component of such films. Any affective labor going on there? 🙂

  2. Ooh, I’d forgotten that I wanted to see this Svankmajer film. I read an appreciative review sometime back, in The Nation, I think. It looks great. Thanks for the screenshots.

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