Little Otik

Little Otik


Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

In present-day Prague a childless couple, the Horaks, long for a baby. One day, Mr Horak pulls up a tree stump in the garden that looks remarkably like a small child. After time and much loving attention the wooden child comes alive. But Otik, as the Horaks name their baby, proves to have an insatiable appetite. First the cat, then the postman, then the social worker...

Unsurprisingly, Jan Svankmajer's adaptation of an old Czech folk tale is as far from Disney as it's possible to get, full of gore, grotesquerie and face-on surrealism.

While Svankmajer's technical abilities, whether mixing animation, live action, or using pure animation, are not in doubt, it's worth remembering that most of the great surrealist films of the past were a good deal shorter than this. Less is more Jan!

Maybe, Svankmajer's intention was to make us experience something of the longing and frustration of the childless Horaks. But, unlike them, the transformation comes as no surprise. And, perhaps, the subsequent repetitive, shaggy-dog nature of the film, with Otik consuming victim after victim, seemingly ad infinitum, is a traditional piece of surrealist confrontation (cf Bunuel's Exterminating Angel, [film]The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie[/film], etc). When coupled with the slow inevitability of the opening half, one is left with a severely patience-trying, insufficiently rewarding film. Half as much would have been twice as good.

Reviewed on: 15 Aug 2001
Share this with others on...
Little Otik packshot
Grotesque take on the story of the little wooden boy.
Amazon link

Director: Jan Svankmajer

Writer: Jan Svankmajer

Starring: Veronika Zilkova, Jan Hartl, Jaroslava Kretschmerova, Pavel Novy, Kristina Adamcova, Jiri Labus, Dagmar Strirna, Zdenek Kozak, Jitka Smutka

Year: 2000

Runtime: 131 minutes

Country: Czech Republic


EIFF 2001

Search database:

If you like this, try:

Fable Of The Fish