Jean Berlot, a disturbed young man befriend a Marquis whose house is the site of a number of disturbing events and then willingly enteres a mutinous asylum to try and restore control to the allegedly captured staff.
Inspired by the writings of Edgar Allan Poe and the Marquis de Sade, Jan Svankmajer has cast this biting allegory on the recent history of Eastern Europe as a horror film.
Using tormented traveller Pavel Liska’s eccentric encounter with Jan Triska’s decadent aristocrat to highlight the dangers of succumbing to propaganda, the rhetoric is occasionally blatant. But Svankmajer sustains his sinister atmosphere by punctuating proceedings (that range from a black mass to a premature burial and a revolt in an asylum) with flesh-creeping stop-motion sequences that surreally suggest a world in chaos.
Bristling with provocative ideas and cinematic ingenuity, this is dark, daring and devastating.
Stuffed with moments of surreal horror and bleak satire, this mortifying allegory on the post-Soviet world ranks among Jan Svankmajer's finest achievements