Archive of films Lunacy / Šílení

Czech Republic / Slovak Republic
2005, 118 min

Section: Czech Films 2005-2006
Year: 2006

The “philosophical horror movie” from director and artist Jan Švankmajer exploits motifs from the works of Edgar Allan Poe and the Marquis de Sade. This highly original exploration of the role of freedom in human life and society is symptomatically set in a madhouse as an allegory of our contemporary world. Are you here as inmates, employees or directors?


For this philosophical horror movie the legendary Czech director has found inspiration in two of his favourite writers, Edgar Alan Poe and the Marquis de Sade. The famous libertine makes his presence felt in the bizarre story through a character called the Marquis, who offers the naive and mentally unstable youth Jean refuge in his dilapidated castle. From here Jean ends up in a lunatic asylum headed by the free-thinking Murllope, who can supposedly help to rid him of his obsessive nightmares. An important role in the story, however, is played by the charming Charlotte, both victim and seductress, and by the original director of the institution, the strict Coulmiere. The narrative, its bizarre atmosphere enhanced by the animation of real objects, is a debate about freedom, and the damaging effects of having too much or too little of it. Worst of all is a situation combining the disadvantages of both states, and unfortunately, this is precisely what happens “in the madhouse that is the modern world”. The film won the Czech Lion for Best Art Direction (Eva Švankmajerová, Veronika Hrubá) and for Best Film Poster (Eva Švankmajerová).

About the director

Jan Švankmajer

Jan Švankmajer (b. 1934, Prague) has in recent years been turning away from animated films in favour of drama features containing animated passages. After studying direction, stage design and puppetry at Prague’s DAMU (Theatre Faculty, Academy of Performing Arts), he rose to become one of the key figures on the international animation scene with his original vision based on Surrealist ideas. Even in his purely animated works, real objects or people often played an important role. He has made a series of highly acclaimed shorts and the long combined films Alice (Něco z Alenky, 1987), Faust (Lekce Faust, 1994), Conspirators of Pleasure (Spiklenci slasti, 1996) and Greedy Guts (Otesánek, 2000). He has also contributed to a number of acted films as an artist. Lunacy (Šílení, 2005) is the last film on which his wife Eva Švankmajerová collaborated as art director.




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About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Czech Films 2005-2006
Director: Jan Švankmajer
Screenplay: Jan Švankmajer
Dir. of Photography: Juraj Galvánek
Editor: Marie Zemanová
Producer: Jaromír Kallista
Production: Athanor
Cast: Pavel Liška, Jan Tříska, Anna Geislerová, Jaroslav Dušek, Martin Huba, Pavel Nový, Stano Dančiak
Contact: ATHANOR – společnost pro filmovou tvorbu, s.r.o.
Distributor: Warner Bros. Entertainment - Czech Republic


Jaromír Kallista


Pavel Nový


Vladimír Kroupa

Other, Other


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