|Genre: Fantasy, Comedy, Cult Classic, Experimental|
Plot: Jan Svankmajer's fourth feature is the story of a thirtysomething couple who, despite their infertility, yearn to have a baby. When Karel (Jan Hartl), the husband, digs up a stump that resembles a newborn, he varnishes it and presents it to his wife, Bozena (Veronika Zilkova), hoping to comfort her and fill the void in their lives. To his astonishment, Bozena immediately begins treating the stump like a real child, and the two dub the stump Otik. Karel's astonishment grows when Bozena manages to nurse Otik into a mewling, living baby, a newborn with a wooden body and a voracious appetite. It isn't long before Otik devours the family cat and the postman, forcing the couple into a quandary. However, Alzbetka, their precocious pre-adolescent neighbor, has discovered the couple's secret by reading a Czech folk tale that parallels the strange occurrences next door, giving the young girl an idea of her own for Otik.
As in Svankmajer's superb 1996 film CONSPIRATORS OF PLEASURE, the director uses his trademark stop-motion animation sparingly and focuses on his characters' desires, invariably making them seem perverse (food is always particularly grotesque in Svankmajer's universe). Brilliant, funny, and frightening, LITTLE OTIK is a wonderfully entertaining and disturbing film.
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