Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Entry: Sedlec Ossuary

I'd heard from some non-Wiki source (probably Ripley's Believe It or Not) about the Sedlec Ossuary, a chapel in the Czech Republic decorated with human bones. But what I learned about from the Wik' was the accompanying documentary. Good Lord.

It was filmed in 1970 by Jan Švankmajer (hell yeah I got the diacritic in there), macabre animator and influence for directors such as Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam, who had been commissioned to do so by the Czech government. And film he did. To quote the article: "The result was a 10 minute long frantic-cut nightmare of skeletal images overdubbed with an actual tour-guide's neutral voice narration. This version was initially banned by the Czech Communist authorities for alleged subversion, and the soundtrack was replaced by a brief spoken introduction and a jazz arrangement by Zdeněk Liška of the poem 'Comment dessiner le portrait d'un oiseau' ('How to Draw the Portrait of a Bird') by Jacques Prévert."

I can see how it would be interpreted as subversive, but honestly, is there any way to film a chandelier made of human skulls and make it seem like a testament to your country's glorious culture and rich history? And how would a jazz arrangement change any of that?

And because I love you so much, here's a link to the film in its entirety. Warning: it's pretty disturbing. If you are on drugs, were on drugs, about to do drugs, or are contemplating doing drugs in the future, I would recommend not watching it.

1 comment:

Pooka said...

You should check out his film "Alice". It's suitably wonderful. Neil Gaiman apparently loves it!