Czech Horror and Fantasy Films at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts

Laura Clifford 
The Ear
The Ear
The Pied Piper
The Pied Piper (Krysar)

Who Killed Jessie?
Who Killed Jessie?
Robin Clifford 
Boston's Museum of Fine Arts is presenting some marvelously perverse holiday programming with their Czech Horror and Fantasy on Film series, running 12/11 through 12/21.  On Thursday, 12/11 at 2 p.m., the event is kicked off with the magnificently gothic "Krysar" ("The Pied Piper") by Jiri Barta.   This stop-motion animation has imagery redolent of "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," Fritz Lang's "Metropolis," "Der Golem" and the drawings of Escher.  Barta takes the classic pied piper tale and turns it into a cautionary tale about capitalistic greed.  "The Pied Piper" is paired with three shorts and is repeated on Sunday, 12/14.

Also on Thursday, 12/11 at 3:30 p.m. is the only showing of "Who Killed Jessie?"  Václav Vorlícek's black and white film is a madcap sci-fi comedy where the comic strip characters that obsess a scientist, including the busty Jessie, come to life after his henpecking scientist wife tries a new serum on him.  This one's not unlike "Monkey Business" meets the Marx Brothers with dashes of the Far Side's Gary Larson - one experiment delves into the nightmares of cows in which they're tortured by gadflies!

On Saturday, 12/20 at 2:30 p.m. is the surreal cult film, "Valerie and Her Week of Wonders."  Jaromil Jares' film follows Valerie just as the thirteen year old enters womanhood and is plunged into a weird world of incestuous ancestors, vampires and religious figures right out of Ken Russell's "The Devils."  The film shows its 1970 roots (the actress who plays Valerie is no thirteen year old), but this Faustian vampire tale has bizarrely beautiful imagery that recalls such films as Bergman's "The Seventh Seal."

On Sunday, 12/21 at 4:10 p.m. is the rarely shown "The Ear" by Karel Kachyna.  This black and white from 1970 is a study in paranoia as a married couple discover their house is bugged and electricity and telephone communication are denied them. "The Ear" is a psychological study akin to a Communist "The Conversation" and is preceded by a shorts program featuring Jiri Barta's ("The Pied Piper") "The Last Theft" and three selections from the great Jan Svankmajer ("Alice").

Other film selections which were not previewed include the horrific black comedy "The Cremator" and "Invisible/The Damned House of Hajn" which is described as the stylistic child of Roman Polanski, Billy Wilder, Maya Deren and Dario Argento!

Click here for the MFA's December, 2003 schedule. 

Robin is seriously freaked out by Czech animation and is still shivering in the corner.

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