New Jan Svankmajer Film Surviving Life (Theory and Practice)


Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) (2010)
Written and Directed by: Jan Svankmajer

I Just wanted to take a minute to express my excitement for a new Jan Svankmajer film. If I can pinpoint one filmmaker who has inspired me the most over the years, it would be the Czech animator and director. Svankmajer has been responsible for many superbly imaginative films that deftly combine live action with stop-motion animation, offering a surreal look at the oddities of life and the frailty of humanity. All of my cinematic heroes are getting older, and with very few taking their place, I'm more than appreciative to have another effort from Svankmajer even if he claims it'll be his last.


Anyone who hasn't had an opportunity to see wonderful works like Alice, Little Otik, Lunacy, or any number of amazing shorts should be sure to seek those out. Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) will no doubt follow suit as a dark comedy that explores dreams and human nature utilizing a striking mix of cut out animation and live action.

Here's a synopsis of the film from the Czech Film Center:
Eugene leads a double life – one real, the other in his dreams. In real life he has a wife called Milada; in his dreams he has a young girlfriend called Eugenia. Sensing that these dreams have some deeper meaning, he goes to see a psychoanalyst, Dr. Holubova, who interprets them for him. Gradually we learn that Eugene lost his parents at a tender age and was brought up in an orphanage. Apart from the lovely Eugenia and her little boy Peter, another figure appears regularly in his dreams – a filthy old woman who keeps warning him not to harm Eugenia. In another he is confronted by a man called Milan, who claims to be Eugenia’s husband and little Peter’s father, and tries to extort money from him. By now Eugenia is expecting Eugene’s child – to the dismay of Dr. Holubova, who believes Eugenia is in fact his anima. And getting your anima pregnant is worse than incest. Meanwhile Milada suspects Eugene is having an affair and starts following him. She confronts Holubova, assuming she is the other woman, and instead learns all about her husband’s double life. In another dream, Eugene accidentally causes Milan’s death during an argument. Milada spies on Eugene’s ritual in the studio, then copies it to gain access to his dream-world. Finding Eugenia, she tells her of Eugene’s bigamy. Both women are devastated. In his studio Eugene is amazed to find an old photograph of Eugenia with little Peter and Milan. He tracks down the photographer who used to work there, who sheds light on what really happened to his parents…

Surviving Life (Theory and Practice) Trailer