Jan Svankmajer (born September 4th,1934 in Prague, Czech Republic) is a Surrealist director, writer, production designer, animator and puppeteer. He is mostly known for his dark adaptations of well-known fairy tales as well as his avant-garde use of three-dimensional stop-motion coupled with live-action animations.
In the 1950s, Svankmajer focused on theatre and puppetry. From 1950 to 1954, he studied at the School of Applied Arts in Prague before enrolling in the puppetry department at the Academy of the Performing Arts. Once he completed his studies, he started working as a theatre director, mainly in association with the Theater of Masks and the Black Theatre. His experimentation with film-making began after he became involved with the mixed-media productions of Prague’s Lanterna Magika Theatre.
He began making short films in 1964, and continued working in the same medium for over twenty years. During this time, he achieved his long-held ambition of making a feature film based on Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (Alice (1988)). He has additionally exhibited drawings, collages and ‘tactile sculpture’, which were mostly produced in the mid-1970s, where he was momentarily banned from filmmaking from the Czech authorities. Furthermore, he has been part of the Prague Surrealist Group since 1969.
DVD with the first feature by Jan Svankmayer
A film by Jan Svankmajer.