Sunday, 10 April 2011

Jiri Barta (1948 - )

A Czech animator specialising in stop-motion animation, Jiri Barta is best known for his feature-length adaptation of The Pied Piper of Hamlein.  Filmed using stop motion, the film is highly recognisable due to the fact that the sets and the characters are all carved from wood (although the rats, when they appear, are real, albeit stuffed).
Fig. 1 The Pied Piper of Hamlein [Film Still]
 Both the sets and the puppets used in the film are highly stylised, with the sets in particular full of distorted perspective in a manner similar to expressionist art and film (in particular, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari).  At the same time, the uneven lines and strangely flattened perspective are reminiscent of medieval woodcuts.  The film combines 3D and 2D stop motion, with the 2D work resembling medieval woodcuts even more closely.
Fig. 2 The Pied Piper of Hamlein [Film Still]
One of the most unusual features of the film is the juxtaposition of visual styles; for example while the townsfolk are carved from dark wood, with angular, exaggerated features reminiscent of cubist artworks, when the town elders sit down to feast on a banquette, they dine (messily) upon realistic food.  This is echoed in the realistic rats, which scurry through the distorted landscape emphasising the unreality of it.

The film has no real dialogue (the townspeople "speak" in a high pitched squeeking strongly reminiscent of rats), with the story told through expressive body language and editing.

List of Illustrations

Figure 1.  Kratky Film Praha (1986) The Pied Piper of Hamlein [Film Still] [Online] At: (Accessed on 09/04/2011)

Figure 2.   Kratky Film Praha (1986) The Pied Piper of Hamlein [Film Still] [Online] At: (Accessed on 09/04/2011)


Bio Illusion (2011) Jari Barta [Online] At: (Accessed on 09/04/2011)

Kosulicova, I (2001) The Morality of Horror In: Kinoeye [Online] At: (Accessed on 09/04/2011)

Rich, J (2006) Jiri Barta: Labyrinth of Darkness In: DVDTalk [Online] At: (Accessed on 09/04/2011)

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