Film Screening: Jan Švankmajer's "Insect"

Saturday, October 27, 2018

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia in 1918, we are showcasing the most recent work of the Czech director and animator Jan Švankmajer. Billed by Švankmajer himself as his final feature film, Insect (2017) brings Švankmajer’s distinctive exploration of the surreal, the grotesque, and the absurd together with two classic texts from early 20th century Prague. The film presents a contemporary theater troupe performing Karel and Josef Čapek’s 1921 satirical play Pictures from the Insects’ Life, an allegorical work revealing human flaws as manifested in a community of insects. With his unique approach of layering textures and narratives, Švankmajer builds upon this mise en abyme, superimposing yet another text, Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, onto the actors’ struggles. In portraying the problematics of humans transforming into insects as they are performing as insects who represent humans, Švankmajer finds freedom to experiment with his distinctive mix of live actors, live animals, stop motion animation, and a disturbing, but compelling, focus on the flesh and fluids of the body, both human and insect.