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Director: Jan Švankmajer
Release Date: 1970
Rating: ★★★
Review:

The Ossuary © Jan Svankmajer‘The Ossuary’ is a commissioned documentary film about a Czech chapel in Sedlec, which is decorated with thousands of bones and skulls of victims of the 1318 plague and of the Hussite wars of 1421.

Two versions of this film exists: one with a soundtrack of a rather mundane guide guiding a group of children, in which she repeatedly warns not to touch the bones on a penalty of fifty crowns. Her tour is mixed with the uncanny sound of a rattling bicycle. For unclear reasons this soundtrack was considered subversive and forbidden by the Czechoslowakian regime. Therefore a second version was made using a jazz soundtrack.

In both versions the soundtrack conflicts with the morbid images, which are composed in a rhythmical way that even appeals when watched silently. The film contains no animation, but is full of Švankmajer’s idiosyncratic cinematography.

Watch ‘The Ossuary’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘The Ossuary’ is available on the DVD ‘Jan Svankmajer – The Complete Short Films’

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Director: Lev Atamanov
Release Date: 1970
Rating: ★★★★★
Review:

We Can Do It © SoyuzmultfilmFrom a fascistic egg sprouts a military bird.

The young bird is fed by a capitalist and a general (who both are clearly American) with money and weapons. It grows into a huge black war-bird, which flies over the whole world, threatening loving couples in London, Paris, Moscow and Japan, and an old man, two mothers and several children in an unclear place. When the war-bird starts to attack, one mother turns Asian, Muslim and black, in order to illustrate that war can affect everybody everywhere. Eventually, however, the war-bird is overthrown by a multitude of peace doves, created by workers, writers, children, artists, musicians and pacifists.

‘We Can Do It’ is a beautiful and strikingly pacifistic film and undoubtedly one of the best propaganda films ever created in the Soviet Union. Despite its anti-American sentiment, its pacifistic theme is timeless and universal. The film tells its clear message without any dialogue or voice over. Moreover, its designs are stunning and very effective, especially that of the war-bird.

Watch ‘We Can Do It’ yourself and tell me what you think:

‘We Can Do It’ is available on the DVD box set ‘Animated Soviet Propaganda’

Director: Paul Driessen
Release Date: 1970
Rating: ★★½
Review:

Het verhaal van kleine Yoghurt © Paul DriessenPaul Driessen’s very first film is a charming little short for children.

Made largely in Spain with help of small subsidy from the Dutch Ministry of Culture, the film tells about a small boy who accidentally sets a forest on fire, but repays his deed by extinguishing another one with help of an elephant with two trunks.

The simple story is hampered by the childish voice over (the English version is much more enjoyable than the original in that respect), and the film certainly doesn’t belong to Driessen’s best works, but its imaginative colors and weird perspectives are still thrilling. It already shows the film maker’s very distinctive animation style, which he would expand and improve over the years, creating such masterpieces as ‘On Land, at Sea and in the Air‘ (1980) and ‘The Writer‘ (1988).

Watch ‘Het verhaal van Kleine Yoghurt’ yourself and tell me what you think:

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNzQ1MTE2NTI=.html

‘Het verhaal van Kleine Yoghurt’ is available on the DVD ‘The Dutch Films of Paul Driessen’

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