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Summary

This early film by renowned animators Stephen and Timothy Quay is structured as a series of little lessons in perception, taught by a puppet simulacrum of Jan Svankmajer (whose head is an opened book) to a doll (whose head the master empties of dross and refills with a similar open book). Each of the nine chapters “refers variously to the importance of objects in Svankmajer’s work, their transformation and bizarre combination through specifically cinematic techniques, the extraordinary power of the camera to 'make strange,' the influence of Surrealism on Svankmajer’s work and the subversive and radical role of humor. Taken out of the context of the original VISIONS television documentary on Svankmajer (for which they served as illustration/commentary), these vignettes might at first sight seem a trifle bewildering. They ideally need to be viewed more than once before they begin to work effectively as quirky introductions to the Svankmajer universe. Then, however, they emerge as surprisingly charming and delightful excursions into this astonishing (and often deeply disturbing) director's work.” – Julian Petley

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