Jan Švankmajer

film 6 of 6

A Quiet Week in the House

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 10, 2015

A bit like A Game with Stones. At one level, it’s strictly structural. The guy goes into the house at the beginning, and leaves at the end. In between he bores six holes in six doors and takes a look at what’s inside. He also goes to bed, and gets up. The comic/menacing furtiveness at the one end and the comic/Buñuelian bomb at the other end does suggest something more than just structure. So too the customary and relentless entropy so typical of all of Svankmajer’s settings.

Candy wrappers and screws. That flashing pixilation is freaky (recalling Ed Emshwiller’s Thanatopsis). The toy chicken and the seeping clay. The table and the lamp, and the budding. The tubing that sucks the water, the plant that dries and then burns. The wine and the wardrobe, and the meat that decomposes. What the various heck? We would seem to have across-the-board symbols, as well as private vocabulary, and also, finally, just messing with us.

All of the visions are played silent. Primal scenes? The lack of sound certainly adds something of the dream to this assembly. Interestingly, the protagonist is never troubled by any of the things that he is seeing. There are lots of interpretive possibilities. Anxiety—or mystery, or the presence of incomprehensible things—as customary, and even, eventually, comfortable. Or the guy is a monster himself. There’s a whole new way to look at narrative, horror, life. Thomas Ripley, etc.