© Koninck Studios/Illuminations/Jan Svankmajer
photo courtesy International Film Festival Rotterdam
The incomparable Jan Svankmajer has created yet another fantastical surrealistic journey into an imaginary world parallel to reality. This story of Otesánek has elements found in such tales as Adam & Eve, Faust, Jonas & the whale, and Shockheaded Peter strewn throughout.

Do what they may, Mr. and Mrs. Horák have remained childless. Though they try everything, nothing seems to work. Many of the neighbors, often with their noses in other peoples' business, talk about this situation incessantly. Even Alzbetka, the little girl next door won't eat any chocolates offered to her by Mrs. Horák, feeling that "Maybe it's contagious."

One day Mr. Horák digs a multi-limbed tree trunk and root out of the garden and, noticing that it resembles an odd creature somewhat like a human baby, varnishes it, takes it home, and places it in a crib. Mrs. Horák takes her newfound child willingly to her breast and becomes obsessed with its care. She even begins wearing pillows in order to fool the neighbors and prepare them for a new arrival. Naturally, with all this love and care, the tree trunk comes to life and demands the things that such newborns need. There's nothing like a good feed. Otik has a voracious appetite that stretches way beyond mother's daily milk and pap to soon include the cat, a social worker, and several other unexpectant citizens of Prague.

Only Alzbetka, with her childlike openness, curious eye, and belief in the extraordinary, is clever enough to realize that the odd activities next door and in the basement are extremely similar to those foretold in "Otesánek," a famous legend and gruesome fairy tale. She befriends Otik, who some might consider a monster, because she realizes he is only an overgrown child. She must try to save him from the threat of the monstrous adults surrounding him.

Have a look at the other IFFR reviews
Amores Perros (Love's a Bitch)
Images of a Moving City
Die Bad
Something Happened
Verboden te Zuchten
Rusty Water (Nok Mool)
City of Lost Souls
Letter from New York City
Me You Them (Eu Tu eLes)
The Circle (Dayareh)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

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