Lunacy (2005)

Genres - Avant-garde / Experimental  |   Sub-Genres - Surrealist Film  |   Run Time - 118 min.  |   Countries - Czechia , Slovakia   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Fans of Czech animator/director Jan Svankmajer will find much of the expected macabre, bizarre visuals in Lunacy. This time around, the animation is largely restricted to "interstitial" segments and generally involve raw meat that has a tendency to move freely around, sometimes in a manner that is most suggestive. Eyeballs, skulls and other oddments are also utilized in these sections, which feature the surrealist filmmaker's incredible skill with stop motion animation. Surrounding these sequences is a story that liberally borrows from Edgar Allan Poe and the Marquis de Sade, going so far as to have the Marquis as a character (or, perhaps, someone who thinks himself the Marquis). The stories are familiar, and the lunatic-running-the-asylum set-up has been done before, but Svankmajer applies his unique vision to the proceedings and creates something that is stimulating and arresting. Mixing time periods with freedom and abandon, Svankmajer is making statements about the timelessness of Man's difficulty in living with other people, the need for and resistance of both freedom and control, and political oppression in modern times. In the lead role, Pavel Liska is quite good; with his haunted, hangdog eyes, he conveys quite well the tortured, confused soul of his character. Even better is Jan Triska as the Marquis; his eyes sparkle with a devilish gleam that is both repellent and mesmerizing, and his braying cackle reveals as much about him as any of the dialogue he spouts.