Director: Jan Švankmajer
Release Date: 1965
Rating: ★★★★

A Game With Stones © Jan SvankmajerIn ‘A Game with Stones’ (also known by its German title ‘Spiel mit Steinen’) an odd construction, consisting of a clock, a tap and a bucket, produces stones by the hour. These stones form patterns to the music of a music box until the bucket is emptied, dropping the stones on the floor.

The stones’ abstract patterns are indeed game-like, but they become more and more grim, ending in a destructive game, destroying the stones, and eventually, the bucket, leaving the machine useless. The game is over. It is Švankmajer’s genius that he’s able to give this fairly abstract film a heart and an unsettling, sad ending.

‘A Game with Stones’ is Švankmajer’s first film to use stop motion animation extensively. The fourth game contains faces made of numerous small pebbles, which anticipates similar heads in ‘Dimensions of Dialogue’ (1982), a film in which Švankmajer’s stop motion techniques reach a stunning apex.

Watch ‘A Game with Stones’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘A Game with Stones’ is available on the DVD ‘Jan Svankmajer – The Complete Short Films’