Synopsis by Mark Deming
Acclaimed animator Jan Svankmajer combines cartoon and live-action imagery to bring to life a bizarre story based on an old Czech folk tale. Karel (Jan Hartl) and Bozena (Veronika Zilkova) are a married couple who desperately want a child, but have been unable to conceive; Alzbetka (Kristina Adamcova), an only child who lives next door, has long wanted a friend to play with and feels for the couple's sad dilemma. One day, Karel is digging up an old tree stump when it occurs to him that the roots look a bit like a baby; Karel brings the stump home and carves it into the image of a child, and Bozena expresses so much love for the wooden infant that it comes to life. Karel and Bozena name their new child Otik, but their joy is short-lived when they discover the infant has a bottomless appetite -- so much so that Otik begins eating stray animals and even people in an effort to satisfy its hunger. Karel and Bozena hide Otik in their basement to keep it from harming others, but Alzbetka feels sorry for the strange child and begins bringing Otik scraps of food. It soon becomes obvious that this isn't enough to keep Otik satisfied, so Alzbetka starts luring people from the neighborhood into the basement -- letting Otik do the rest. Otesanek was screened in competition at the 2000 Venice Film Festival.
appetite [for food], baby, child, hunger [food], husband-and-wife, only-child, tree