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lupercal's Review of The Flat

rated it: posted: Mar 25, 2006
Reviews: 517 | KF Animation Editor
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Very good review below. This is one of my favourite early Svankmajer shorts, and like most of his shorts, it keeps growing on you. What it makes very plain is, despite his reputation for dark, serious, incomprehensible films, the guy has a sense of humour. A lot of 'The Flat' is funny. But it's funny in ways which can be easily related to two themes which pervaded Svankmajer's work of the period - either by choice or necessity.

The first is the ever-hovering motif of mortality, decay and death. Of the helplessness of the individual against cosmic forces beyond his control. The nameless protagonist is thrust into a malevolent flat (rather like the child in his later 'Down to the Cellar'), and soon discovers not only that he is trapped in it, but that it wishes him ill - injuring him, playing tricks on him. Mind you, some of these episodes are rather funny. My favourite is where he sits down to eats some sausages, hears a noise coming from the closet, opens it, and a pack of dogs leap out, eat the sausages and leap back in again.

The other theme which must have informed his work was the repression of life and the arts under Soviet rule. It wasn't long after this that he was banned from making films for about 5 years. So, seen from this perspective, the flat represents the malicious repression of the state.

Whether Svankmajer is referring to death, authoritarianism or both, the individual is helpless against it, and in this film the protagonist accepts his ordeals with a sort of numb resignation, drained of resistance.

I won't spoil the ending for you, but it only confirms the themes of the rest of the film.

As for the guy who walks in, in slow motion, petting a rooster, offers him an axe, and walks out again, still petting the rooster... you tell me (and then you can explain to me the rooster-man in 'Conspirators of Pleasure)

A classic short. Nothing else quite like it.

short film The Flat © Krátký Film Praha
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The Flat
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