Archive for the 'Jan Lenica' Category

Short Animated World

I’ve just discovered the Short Animated World blog, dedicated to chronicling all 100 entries on the recent Annecy Film Festival/Studio Magazine/Variety poll of thirty animation historians to establish the best animated films of all time. There’s no original critical material, but each entry offers links and - in most cases - a streaming copy of the actual film.

Unsurprisingly, central and eastern Europe animators loom large in the poll, notching up the following entries:

  • 3. Dimensions of Dialogue (Možnosti dialogu, d. Jan Švankmajer, 1982, Czechoslovakia)
  • 6. Tale of Tales (Сказка сказок, d. Yuri Norstein, 1979, USSR)
  • 18. Tango (d. Zbigniew Rybczyński, 1980, Poland)
  • 25. The Hand (Ruka, d. Jiří Trnka, 1965, Czechoslovakia) - Kinoblog review here
  • 31. The Cameraman’s Revenge (Месть кинематографического оператора, d. Władysław Starewicz, 1911, Russia)
  • 33. Hunger (La faim, d. Peter Földes, 1974, Canada)
  • 35. Satiemania (d. Zdenko Gašparović, 1978, Yugoslavia)
  • 44. Franz Kafka (d. Piotr Dumała, 1991, Poland)
  • 47. The Grey Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood (Серый волк энд Красная шапочка, d. Garry Bardin, 1990, USSR)
  • 49. Hedgehog in the Fog (Ежик в тумане, d. Yuri Norstein, 1975, USSR)
  • 65. Monsieur Tête (L’horrible, bizarre et incroyable histoire de Monsieur Tête, d. Jan Lenica/Henri Gruel, 1959, France)
  • 68. Repete (d. Michaela Pavlátová, 1995, Czech Republic)
  • 69. Hen, His Wife (Его жена курица, d. Igor Kovaliyov, 1989, USSR)
  • 83. The Lion and the Song (Lev a písnička, d. Břetislav Pojar, 1959, Czechoslovakia)
  • 85. The Roll-Call (Apel, d. Ryszard Cekala, 1970, Poland)
  • 86. A (d. Jan Lenica, 1964, West Germany)
  • 88. Tuning the Instruments (Strojenie instrumentów, d. Jerzy Kucia, 2000, Poland)
  • 89. Le Pas (d. Piotr Kamler, 1974, France)
  • 95. Le Concert de M. et Mme. Kabal (d. Walerian Borowczyk, 1962, France)
  • 97. Hotel E (d. Priit Pärn, 1992, Estonia)
  • 98. Film Film Film (Фильм, фильм, фильм, d. Fyodor Khitruk, 1968, USSR)
  • 99. Les Jeux des Anges (d. Walerian Borowczyk, 1964, France)

Posted on 26th October 2008
Under: Animation, Jiří Trnka, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Soviet Union, Russia, Jan Švankmajer, Walerian Borowczyk, Jan Lenica, Czech Republic, Władysław Starewicz, Yugoslavia, Estonia, Priit Pärn, Piotr Kamler, Piotr Dumała, Jerzy Kucia, Ryszard Cekala, Břetislav Pojar, Igor Kovaliyov, Michaela Pavlátová, Yuri Norstein, Garry Bardin, Zdenko Gašparović, Peter Földes, Zbigniew Rybczyński | 2 Comments »


On his magnificently-titled blog Sit Down Man, You’re a Bloody Tragedy, Owen Hatherley has published an incisive analysis of Dom (1958), the collaboration by Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica that’s now regarded not just as their own breakthrough but the film that kick-started serious Polish animated cinema in general - though, as Hatherley argues, the film is inspired as much by earlier media including Alice in Wonderland, modernist architecture and Surrealism and a general “fetishistic affection for the apparently obsolete”.

The post also includes an embedded YouTube version of the film itself, but those who want a (much) higher-quality copy should snap up PWA’s bargain-priced, 100% English-friendly Anthology of Polish Animation, which also includes other early works by Borowczyk (The School/Szkola) and Lenica (Labyrinth/Labirynt, 1963)

Posted on 1st October 2008
Under: Animation, Poland, Walerian Borowczyk, Jan Lenica | 2 Comments »

Anthology of Polish Experimental Animation

I’m acutely conscious that amongst the many failings of this blog is the lack of coverage of animation (something that’s even more unforgivable when you consider that I have strong personal and professional interests in the subject), but if anything’s going to galvanise me into paying it more attention, it’s the imminent release of what looks like a truly phenomenal box set from Polskie Wydawnictwo Audiowizualne.

Given the self-explanatory title Antologia Polskiej Animacji Eksperymentalnej, or Anthology of Polish Experimental Animation, it’s a triple-disc set with forty films adding up to nearly four-and-a-half hours of material. Much of this will be unfamiliar to non-specialists, but the films I’ve seen - by Stefan and Franciszka Themerson, Walerian Borowczyk, Jan Lenica and Zbigniew Rybczynski - are worth the price on their own.

Here’s the list of titles in Polish - I’ve added some English titles where I’m already familiar with them, and will update the rest when PWA offers an English translation.

Disc One
1. The Eye and the Ear (Oko i ucho, d. Franciszka and Stefan Themerson, 1944/45)
2. Once Upon a Time… (Był sobie raz…, d. Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica, 1957)
3. Kineformy (d. Andrzej Pawłowski, 1957)
4. Tam i tu (d. Andrzej Pawłowski, 1957)
5. Standard of Youth (Sztandar młodych, d. Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica, 1957)
6. Somnambulists (Somnambulicy, d. Mieczysław Waśkowski, 1958)
7. Prostokąt dynamiczny (d. Józef Robakowski, 1971)
8. Test I (d. Józef Robakowski, 1971)
9. Demons (Demony, d. Kazimierz Urbański, 1980)
10. Stomp (d. Maciej Ćwiek, 1984)
11. Muka (d. Natalia Wilkoszewska, 2003)
12. III (d. Jakub Lech, 2003)
13. 1-39-C (d. Olga Wroniewicz, 2004)

Disc Two
1. Słodkie rytmy (d. Kazimierz Urbański, 1965)
2. Steering My Own Destiny (Sam sobie sterem, d. Katarzyna Latałło, 1971)
3. Replika (d. Kazimierz Bendkowski, 1975)
4. New Book (Nowa książka, d. Zbigniew Rybczyński, 1975)
5. Oh! I Can’t Stop! (Oj! Nie mogę się zatrzymać!, d. Zbigniew Rybczyński, 1975)
6. Portret (d. Stanisław Lenartowicz, 1977)
7. Dead Shadow (Martwy cień, d. Andrzej Klimowski, 1980)
8. Linia (d. Grzegorz Rogala, 1981)
9. First Film (Pierwszy film, d. Józef Piwkowski, 1981)
10. Blok (d. Hieronim Neumann, 1982)
11. Odpryski (d. Jerzy Kucia, 1984)
12. Video Disc (d. Maciej Ćwiek, 1986)
13. Zoopraxiscope (d. Hieronim Neumann, 2005)

Disc Three
1. Plaża (d. Edward Sturlis, 1964)
2. Copyright by Film Polski MCWLXXVI (d. Piotr Szulkin, 1976)
3. Słońce-film bez kamery (d. Julian Antonisz, 1977)
4. Co widzimy po zamknięciu oczu (d. Julian Antonisz, 1978)
5. Koło bermudzkie (d. Jerzy Kalina, 1979)
6. Cinema verite (d. Andrzej Warchał, 1979)
7. Niezapomniana noc (d. Janek Koza, 1996)
8. Rodzinny interes (d. Janek Koza, 1996)
9. Śmierć na 5 (d. Mariusz Wilczyński, 2002)
10. Niestety (d. Mariusz Wilczyński, 2004)
11. Kundelku ujadaj, perełko rób piekło (d. Wojciech Bąkowski, 2006)
12. Film mówiony 1 (d. Wojciech Bąkowski, 2007)
13. Czapka (d. Tomek Sikora, 2007)
14. Ciastka (d. Tomek Sikora, 2007)

Here’s more information in Polish - I’ll post an English link when they get round to translating it.

Posted on 9th July 2008
Under: Animation, Poland, Walerian Borowczyk, Jan Lenica | 4 Comments »

Polish animation DVD update

Further to my post of 8th June about a new two-DVD survey of key Polish animated short films, the Polskie Wydawnictwo Audiowizualne site has just uploaded official details - in Polish only at present, but an English translation will doubtless follow.

More good news is that the list of titles I uploaded was incomplete - there are actually 28 films in total. The two I omitted were the most recent, Tomek Bagiński’s Katedra (2002) and Marek Skrobecki’s Ichthys (2005). The page also confirms that the set will have English subtitles.

It’s also now available from Polish online retailer, from whom I’ve just placed an order. Even including postage, it came to only just over a tenner, which has to be the bargain of the year.

Posted on 18th June 2007
Under: Animation, Poland, Walerian Borowczyk, Jan Lenica | 1 Comment »

Polish Posters

Polish poster design is one of the frequently unsung glories of the visual arts over the past century. Many Polish filmmakers, including Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Lenica, started out as poster designers, and many other major Polish artists made memorable contributions to the form.

Their influence has been far-reaching - when I interviewed the Quay Brothers last year for their DVD Quay Brothers: The Short Films 1979-2003 (the same interview is on the US edition, Phantom Museums or, if you need French subtitles, on Frères Quay: Courts-métrages d’animation), they not only insisted on highlighting Polish poster art as one of their primary influences, but also treated me (and that was very much the operative word) to a guided tour of their own collection, some of which ended up on camera. Here’s what they had to say:

We arrived from our little village to the Philadelphia College of Art to study painting and drawing and we’d more or less chosen that over the idea that we could have been gymnasts. Our father was more or less saying “you have an opportunity to do one of two things: you can be gym teachers or artists”, and in the end we opted for trying to become artists. And on that day that we entered the doors of the college we saw this fabulous exhibition of Polish posters which was consummate in terms of the imagery that was assaulting us, the typography, the names which were unpronounceable, but in a way, on inspection and through the next year or so, we researched all these names of posters, names like Borowczyk, Lenica, Starowieyski, Cieslewicz, Tomaszewski and each one, for sure… through the research we realised that Lenica made animation films after having done posters, and Borowczyk made animation films and went on to make feature films, and it probably set a tiny star for us to maybe inherit.

At their suggestion, I ended up adding mini-biographies of many of the key Polish poster artists to the DVD booklet, which inevitably meant delving into their work myself - and they’re right: the range and quality is quite extraordinary. There are lots of examples available online - confusingly, two separate sites go by the names and, each with loads of illustrations.

Here are a few direct links to work by some of the key designers to get you started (firstname and surname send you to different sites):

…but that’s just scratching the surface. Neither site highlights Walerian Borowczyk’s work as a poster designer , but has a couple of examples.

Posted on 15th June 2007
Under: Poland, Walerian Borowczyk, Jan Lenica | 2 Comments »

Polish animation on DVD

This (downloadable Word document) hints at some very exciting news. Apparently the Polish government-backed PWA (Polskie Wydawnictwo Audiowizualne, or Polish Audiovisual Publishers), which has already released some highly acclaimed DVD surveys of classic Polish documentaries, is turning its curatorial attentions to Poland’s rich animation heritage, though I can’t find any formal announcements on its own site as yet.

But this is what appears to be included:

DISC ONE (118 mins 40 secs)

  • House (Dom, Walerian Borowczyk/Jan Lenica, 1958, 10:55)
  • Changing of the Guard (Zmiana warty, Włodzimierz Haupe/Halina Bielińska, 1958, 8:06)
  • The School (Szkoła, Walerian Borowczyk, 1958, 7:42)
  • Labyrinth (Labirynt, Jan Lenica, 1961, 15:30)
  • Playthings (Igraszki, Kazimierz Urbański, 1962, 7:22)
  • The Armchair (Fotel, Daniel Szczechura, 1963, 6:15)
  • Red and Black (Czerwone i czarne, Witold Giersz, 1963, 6:58)
  • Cages (Klatki, Mirosław Kijowicz, 1966, 8:06)
  • Everything is a Number (Wszystko jest liczbą, Stefan Schabenbeck, 7:30)
  • The Horse (Koń, Witold Giersz, 1967, 6:38)
  • Stairs (Schody, Stefan Schabenbeck, 1968, 7:18)
  • Journey (Podróż, Daniel Szczechura, 1970, 6:22)
  • The Son (Syn, Ryszard Czekała, 1970, 10:08)
  • Road (Droga, Mirosław Kijowicz, 1971, 4:35)
  • The Roll-Call (Apel, Ryszard Czekała, 1970, 7:55)

DISC TWO (94 mins 54 secs)

  • Banquet (Bankiet, Zofia Oraczewska, 1976, 8:55)
  • Soup (Zupa, Zbigniew Rybczyński, 1974, 8:22)
  • Reflections (Refleksy, Jerzy Kucia, 1979, 6:20)
  • A Sharp, Engaged Movie (Ostry film zaangażowany, Julian Antonisz, 1979, 8:03)
  • Tango (Zbigniew Rybczyński, 1980, 8:10)
  • Unfaithful Portrait (Portret niewierny, Ewa Bibańska, 1981, 8:00)
  • Little Black Riding Hood (Czarny Kapturek, Piotr Dumała, 1983, 5:16)
  • Gentle Spirit (Łagodna, Piotr Dumała, 1985, 11:33)
  • Solo on the Follow (Solo na ugorze, Jerzy Kalina, 7:15)
  • Race (Wyścig, Marek Serafiński, 1989, 7:20)
  • Tuning the Instruments (Strojenie instrumentów, Jerzy Kucia, 2000, 16:20)

If I find out any more, I’ll post it here a.s.a.p. - but they’ve definitely sold at least one copy. Even if it doesn’t have English subtitles, I suspect this won’t be a major handicap - of the half-dozen titles I’ve seen, none has any spoken dialogue.

(The links, incidentally, are to entries on the Polish-language but attractively illustrated 55 lat polskiej animacji site, which at least gives a passing idea of what some of the films are like.)

Posted on 8th June 2007
Under: Animation, Poland, Walerian Borowczyk, Jan Lenica | 7 Comments »

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