634. The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia – Jan Svankmajer

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SUMMARY: When a bust of Stalin is operated on, it reveals an animated history of Czechoslovakia from 1948-1989.

WHY IT’S HERE: Jan Svankmajer’s ‘The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia’ is the director’s most overtly political film, depicting Czech history from the Communist takeover in 1948 to the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Although a knowledge of Czech history makes the film more rewarding, Svankmajer’s surrealist, symbolic images are fascinating in and of themselves and will hopefully, as they did with me, drive those who know little about the political context to read up on it and enhance their enjoyment of the film on subsequent viewings. From its opening surgical mutilation of a bust of Stalin through its tank-like rolling pins and puppet governments, ‘The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia’ sees Svankmajer use one of his widest ranges of animation styles yet, incorporating archive photographs alongside his trademark slithering stop-motion creations.

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