Reality Blurs with Dreams in the Great Czech Animator’s New Psychoanalytic Comedy
Celebrated Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer explores surrealism’s fixation with the fathers of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, in his latest feature. A mix of live-action and cut-out animation, Surviving Life is an alternate reality rom-com in which the protagonist pursues the woman of his dreams (literally), making regular visits to an analyst to ensure rather than cure his unconscious fantasies. Waking and dreaming realities blur into a hybrid dimension in which Rubenesque, chicken-headed women roam the streets naked, giant apples roll along back alleys and God is a grumpy old woman with bad breath. “Fear of life is a basic human emotion,” explains the award-winning animator, who has made six acclaimed features since his 1988 debut Alice and has been cited as an influence by filmmakers including Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton and the Brothers Quay. “If, as Freud tells us, the purpose of dreams is to fulfill our secret or manifest desires, then surely somewhere deep inside us that most basic of human desires must constantly be being fulfilled: to survive one’s own life.”
Surviving Life opens in London on December 2.