Sunday, January 21, 2007

LITTLE OTIK





Disturbing children's folk tale of the week:
LITTLE OTIK

I knew that when I started to classify movies (comedy, drama, horror, western, etc.), I was eventually going to run into trouble. Some films just don’t fit into a single category. So ...... you start to combine genres: part drama + part comedy = dramedy; part horror + part comedy = black comedy; etc. Sometimes you get longer combinations, like last week's movie, Kung Fu Hustle - described as a "martial arts -30’s -gangster -action -comedy". Now, would that be a "kung-fu gangedy"? or maybe a "com-martial artsionster"? Or shall we come up with a whole new word, not based on any other description, like "schma"? "Schma" is good, and I don't think it's being used for anything else - and even if it is, so what? "Kung-Fu Hustle? What kind of movie is that?" "Why, it's a delightful schma."

However, ..... I can't even think up an entirely new word to describe LITTLE OTIK.

Where shall I start? Well, working from memory, I debated whether this was a family movie with a lot of dark humor, or if it was a deeply and profoundly disturbing mind f***. After seeing it again recently, I just can't imagine how I could have thought of this, even remotely, as a family movie. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very very funny – just in a funny sort of way. You know what, I’m not getting this right – let me start over.

LITTLE OTIK is an allegory for fertility and and of a mother's love. Based on a Czech folk fairy tale, it tells the story of a young couple who are unhappy because they are unable to have children. One day, while digging in the garden, the husband unearths a large root, shaped vaguely like a infant. To ease his wife’s distress, he smoothes and varnishes the root and gives it to her. With a mother’s eyes, she sees not a log, but the baby boy she’s always wanted and takes him (it) in. Through the sheer force of a mother’s love, the root comes alive. She works ceaselessly to satisfy its great hunger. The couple work hard to keep him from danger and to keep him out of trouble as he grows up – but boys will be boys, and soon ...... You know, I’m still not getting this right. Let me start again.

A man carves a little wooden boy from a garden root and presents it to his wife. The couple love Little Otik and Little Otik loves them. What he wants, most of all though, is to be a real boy. Now although he tries to be good, he is led astray and gets into oh so much trouble! Will Little Otik, with a song in his heart and his conscience by his side, set things right and get back to his family and become a real boy? I guess you’ll have to watch to find out.

There! That’s better.

Of course, I’m sure you’re going to follow the link above to the IMDB site and find out what this movie is really about (I’m just exhibiting a psychological block about it). Now I can’t say for sure, but I betting that many of you will not like this film. You will be disturbed by it, or afraid to be alone, or of gardens, but if you give it a chance, you will have a truly “unique” cinematic experience. But for my part, here is a short list of truly disturbing images that I won’t soon forget.

  1. fertility images: In the beginning of the film, the husband sees (imagines) images representing fertility – these are extreme like you wouldn’t believe.
  2. Little Otik, feeding at the breast.
  3. Little Otik feeding, period.
  4. More Little Otik feeding. He does a lot of feeding in this movie.
  5. Little Otik crying. Don’t you just hate seeing babies cry?
  6. The neighbors cooking. I almost think this is the most disturbing of all.
  7. The dirty old man. Such a vivid stereotype, you don’t often see in movies anymore.
  8. I’m a parent and I know first-hand that children can drive you crazy. They are demanding and they sometimes misbehave, but you love them anyway, you have to, though it can be very stressful at times. I’m going to sleep with one eye open from now on.
  9. Not-so-Little Otik feeding. Kids eat – what can I say?
  10. That I watched it a second time – makes me wonder about myself.

If I'm giving you the impression that this is a grizzly horror film, I’m sorry. That’s incorrect. It’s a family movie with some dark humor. Really.

Warning: Not for very young children. It’s unrated. There isn’t any sex or nudity or profanity, but it is strange and weird, and can be scary, so be warned!

Enjoy.

3 Comments:

At 10:20 PM, Blogger Living Out Loud said...

No, no, no! This is not a family
movie! It's weird and disturbing
in a rather subtle way. I was brought up on Grimm's fairy tales,
and the movie still did a number on
me.

 
At 9:49 AM, Blogger iffy said...

Yes, It's about fertility or the lack of it but it seems to me to be about desire...real, uncontrolled, NOW, NOW, NOW Desire. Something we all have and that is one of the things that is disturbing about the movie.
We could all devour the world with our hunger for many things: for children, for sex, for love, for food.
Unfettered by any morality or other 'hangups' we would destroy the whole world for those desires.

 
At 10:23 AM, Blogger FranksFilms said...

The bit about it being a family movie was my attempt at a little sarcasm. But I totally agree with you. It is profoundly disturbing but not for the obvious reasons (folks being devoured). What's more disturbing is the theme of the turning of the innocence of childhood. The idea that your child is a monster is a disturbing one.

 

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