Synopsis: An old woman heads out one afternoon to buy some ham. On her way to the butchers she walks past a religious fountain, whereupon the angel and devil sculptures come alive. The devil reaches Heaven and starts toying with the world below him from a board of levers.
When animation is hand-drawn in this century of prevalent CGI ‘toons the archaic style is nicely refreshing and nostalgic. Eliska Chytková’s O Ŝunce [Ham Story] is a scratchy, exuberant and crazy short, etched with a rawness seldom seen nowadays.
Two of the film’s most noticeable facets are its animation and its bonkers story. The former includes bright and bold aesthetics, with emphasis on shape and colour. As the palette and dimensions are experimented with, so is the basic basis of storytelling. The film follows a little old woman who heads to the butchers to pick up some ham. On her way there she walks past a fountain whereupon two stone angels become alive and fly up into the sky. Up there, one angel – slightly devilish – starts playing God with levers controlling matter which, back down on earth in and around the butcher are altering frantically.
In the 6 minutes there is a ton of action happening; to think of the effort gone into the art is mind-blowing. The mishap at the hands of the mischievous “angel” is funny to watch, and the idea is quirky and cute. It’s not a seminal piece of work and exists purely to make you chuckle.
It’s more of a funny-looking experiment and given the expanse of action it was only going to be possible to record it all meticulously with years of work. The overall product looks like a series of mad doodles – from a cow with giant udders, milk flooding the streets and cats dropping down to slurp it all down (this only a minor instant in amongst the chaos).
As well as looking energetic, the sound mixing pounds through the speakers. The stereo recording of odd sound effects and voices is obviously less painstaking than the drawing, leaving all the technical proficiency to be found in the sound.
Observations about everyday life have been captured humorously by Eliska Chytková. Elderly women trotting along, silicon-injected models parading through the streets, and scrawny slinky salesman all have such character even if they’re only seen for a split second. Chytková is playful with every figure in the frame; imagination clearly courses through the director and artist’s veins.
O Ŝunce as competing in the Cinefondation Selection at Cannes 2013. Also published Nisimazine Cannes 2013 (page 58)