612. Flora – Jan Svankmajer

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SUMMARY: The decomposition of a woman made of vegetables is glimpsed fleetingly in this disturbing 30 second short.

WHY IT’S HERE: One of the shortest short films on the list, Jan Svankmajer’s ‘Flora’ is astonishingly effective in its tiny timeframe. If you stumbled upon this film online you’d be forgiven for thinking it was unfinished or an extract from a longer piece, but no, ‘Flora’ is complete. This is all we are allowed to see of this particular scenario and the results are insistently haunting and genuinely leave the heart pounding. ‘Flora’ begins with a close up of rapidly rotting fruit and vegetables. We then see that this decaying food actually makes up the body of a humanoid plant woman who is tied to a bed with a desperately need glass of water just out of her reach. She squirms and struggles and then its over. The film is over, that is, because the exact fate of the creature is left unknown. Death seems to be immediately imminent but we aren’t even granted the closure of seeing this. Meanwhile, the urgency of the noisy soundtrack is a pulse-pounding cacophony of unpleasant noises, including a police siren. Is this a sign of help on the way or just of the ongoing chaos of the world outside? Even if it is the former, the situation seems so damn urgent that little hope is implanted in the viewer’s mind. In 30 seconds, ‘Flora’ sends chills down the viewer’s spine and the first time you see it, it’s akin to being punched in the face. There’s an instinct to press that play button again instantly to confirm everything you have just failed to take in but there is also a feeling of terror at the very idea of doing so. Few animators, or filmmakers of any kind for that matter, could elicit such a response from viewers in such a brief runtime.

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