GREEDY GUTS; LITTLE OTEK
Otesanek seems to be based on an East European fairytale. I am unfamiliar with the fairytale, but one gets the sense that Jan Svankmajer was not interested in any straight telling of the fairytale but more that he was amused by the idea of mapping out peoples straight-face reactions to the concept. Some of these reactions, all presented deadpan, are side-splitting. As the mother, Veronika Zilkova gives an hilarious performance, treating the tree as though it were a baby with steadfast certainty bathing it, clipping its nails, changing its diapers, rubbing cream on its butt. There is the ever so delightful moment where she displays an array of cushions of differing sizes lined up to represents each month of her pregnancy. The opening moments feature some delightfully droll images of Buñuelian surrealism with babies being netted out of a bucket, weighed and wrapped in a fish market; or the husband cutting open a melon to find a baby inside.
For a time, Otesanek seems like it is going to be a surreally eccentric piece about a husband despairing of the wifes certain belief that a log of wood is a baby indeed the film seems almost like it is going to be a comedy spun out around the character of the Log Lady from Twin Peaks (1990-1) but the focus changes about a third of the way in and Otesanek becomes a macabre monster movie. Although again, Jan Svankmajers focus is less the monster movie or fairytale than it is peoples deadpan reactions to the situation. Here Kristina Adamsova is hilarious as the young girl taking all the food in the house to the log baby, breaking open her piggybank to buy more and finally drawing straws to see who in the apartment building she will let it eat. Veronika Zilkova and Kristina Adamsovas deadpan performances are hilarious and Otesanek is easily Jan Svankmajers best since Alice.
Full film available online (Part 1 here):-
Part 2 here:-