SUMMARY: A man is imprisoned in a sinister flat where nothing is quite as it seems.
WHY IT’S HERE: Seen by many as an allegory for the secret police interrogations carried out during the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Jan Svankmajer’s ‘The Flat’ is an intense, claustrophobic surrealist nightmare in which a man is trapped in a strange room in which nothing is what it seems. Water gushes out of the stove, the light bulb batters a hole through the wall, food is inedible and the bed rebels if you try to sleep on it. Whatever its meaning, ‘The Flat’ is a remarkable and unforgettable short in which stop motion animation provides the special effects in a largely live action story. In this sense it is reminiscent of Segundo de Chomon’s ‘The Electric Hotel’, but while in that short the animated objects were the whole show, in ‘The Flat’ the animation and storyline are of equal interest. The riveted viewer wonders where Svankmajer will take things next and the animation is largely a means to move things forward, although it is as impressively eerie as we have come to expect from one of the animated shorts’ greatest directors.