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Little Otik (1998, Jan Hartl, Veronika Zilkova)

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Acclaimed Czech animator Jan Svankmajer’s film updates a child’s fable from his country, mixing live actors and an animated baby, the eponymous Little Otik.

Karel and Bozena (Jan Hartl and Veronika Zilkova) are a married couple desperate for a child but unable to conceive. One day Karel, digging up an old tree stump, comes across a root that looks like a baby. Carving it into a likeness of a child, he presents it to his wife and, such is her love, the root comes to life. But as Otik grows, so his appetites become greater and the little girl next door (Kristina Adamcova), desperate for a playmate, is happy to lure people to the basement where Otik lives… and feeds…

Macabre in tone but tinged with the odd twist of leavening humour found in such titles as The Little Shop of Horrors or The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Little Otik is a warning against tampering with nature, with the moral that to do so carries a heavy price. And of course, the director’s trademark single-frame animation makes the increasingly voracious ‘child’ infinitely terrifying.

production details
Czechoslavakia | 132 minutes | 2001

Director: Jan Švankmajer
Script: Jan Švankmajer, Karel Jaromír Erben,

cast
Veronika Žilková as Božena
Jan Hartl as Karel
Jaroslava Kretschmerová as matka Alžbětky
Pavel Nový as otec Alžbětky
Kristina Adamcová as Alžbětka
Dagmar Stríbrná as paní správcová
Zdenek Kozák as pan Žlábek
Gustav Vondráček as pošťák Mládek
Arnošt Goldflam as gynekolog
Jitka Smutná as Bulankova, the social worker
Radek Holub as Young postman
Zdenek Palusga as Uniformed policeman
Frantisek Polata as Plainclothes policeman
Vaclav Jezek as Plainclothes policeman
Joseph Cahill as
Tomáš Hanák as Radio presenter (voice)
Jiří Lábus as Policeman at station
Jan Jiráň as Karlův kolega