Dimensions of Dialogue is a short animated film, made in 1982 by Czech Surrealist artist and film-maker, Jan Švankmajer. The film is split into three sections, ‘Exhaustive Discussion’, where Arcimboldo-like heads reduce each other into bland copies; ‘Passionate Discourse’ a clay couple merge and dissolve in love-making, only to eventually disown and destroy each other; and ‘Factual Conversation’ two heads fail to communicate with each, presenting various objects with their tongues, none of which match.
Švankmajer has been making animations for over forty years, and his work has been a major influence on Terry Gilliam, the Brothers Quay, Tim Burton, and others. Gilliam listed Dimensions of Dialogue as one of “10 best animations of all time”, stating:
Jan Svankmajer’s stop-motion work uses familiar, unremarkable objects in a way which is deeply disturbing. The first film of his that I saw was Alice, and I was extremely unsettled by the image of an animated rabbit which had real fur and real eyes. His films always leave me with mixed feelings, but they all have moments that really get to me; moments that evoke the nightmarish spectre of seeing commonplace things coming unexpectedly to life.
While Sense of Cinema described Dimensions of Dialogue as:
...instructional that it is everyday objects that are confronted, devoured, spat out and homogenised, through a series of metaphors of colonisation, to an endless repetition of cloning operations. This is our digital world laid out in 1982.
Perhaps. But it strikes me that Svankmajer is doing more than this and he is confronting the failings of human existence, in a darkly humorous and disturbing way, to fully connect with one other.
This month sees the release of Svankmajer’s latest and, what he has announced maybe his, last film, Surviving Life:
Eugene leads a double life - one real life, and another life in his dreams. In real life, he is married to Milada; in his dreams, he has a young lover called Eugenia. Sensing that these dreams have a deeper meaning, he goes to see a psychoanalyst, who interprets his dreams for him. Gradually we learn that Eugene lost his parents in early childhood and was brought up in an orphanage.
In the meantime, Eugenia is expecting Eugene’s child - to the dismay of a psychoanalyst, 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. She spies on Eugene’s ritual in his studio, and enter his dream-world. French Romantic poet, Gerard de Nerval, said: “Our dreams are a second life.” This films wants to prove his words.
Via Tara McGinley