Surviving Life Review

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Middle-aged man Eugene (Helsus) is married to a woman his own age but tormented by dreams of a pretty young woman (Issova). Eventually he realises that she shares the same name as his mother, a Freudian revelation only intensified when she becomes pregnant...


A cut-out photograph of Jan Svankmajer apologises in a prologue for the cheap, kiddie TV animation of this film, which he says he couldn’t afford to make in live action — though cut-outs are replaced by live actors in close-up, like the real hands which did things puppets couldn’t in Thunderbirds. Actually, this cries out for full animation, for Svankmajer’s genius is expressed best in surreal conceits like the feuding photographs of Freud and Jung on the wall of an analyst trying to help the put-upon protagonist cope with dreams of a woman in red which are ruining his marriage and work. The story is slight for a feature and audiences will work out the root of the hero’s problems before his shrink, but Svankmajer delivers a parade of disturbing delights which will creep into anyone’s dreams.

The Czech animation maestro's first feature for six years is a welcome, if sometimes slight, return. It's still 20 percent more weird and wonderful than your average dream-exploring, Freud-featuring cut-out animation.