Jan Svankmajer
Another Kind of Love
Medium: short film
Year: 1988
Writer/director: Jan Svankmajer
Keywords: animation
Actor: Hugh Cornwell
Country: Czechoslovakia
Language: English
Format: 4 minutes
Url: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0169562
Website category: Other
Review date: 17 November 2013
It's a music video. No, that's not just a colourful phrase. In 1988, Jan Svankmajer made a music video for Hugh Cornwell of The Stranglers. This is strange by any standards, including Svankmajer's.
Cornwell sounds interesting. As well as being a musician and songwriter, he's also written four books including a novel and has acted in a few things too. His first book was about his time in Pentonville prison for drug possession. Certainly he's the only person to have hired Svankmajer to make them a music video As for the film itself, it's one of several short films Svankmajer made around this point, frequently so brief that you'd think they were over almost before they've begun. For half a decade he'd only worked on his first feature-length film, Alice. When that came out in 1988, he let himself make shorts again.
It's peculiar if you're on a Svankmajer bender because there's a pop song on the soundtrack and the camera's gawping at some strange bloke (Cornwell) as he dances a little and sings. Fortunately though, most of the film is Svankmajer being Svankmajer. The "other kind of love" is illustrated with two people who grow from their empty clothes. One is male and eventually real (Cornwell) and the other is a nude woman, always made of clay. The first thing she does is to blast her brains out of her skull. His head, on the other hand, turns into a beast's. When the two make contact, they melt into a single deformed clay blob. The woman devours Cornwell, coming out of the wall and pulling him into her. The sexual politics is what you'll notice first.
On your second viewing, though, you'll notice the theme of entrapment. Cornwell's stuck in this little room. He shuffles around the floor and even the walls. He crawls and spins around the room's edges. He's a prisoner in there, while the woman's more of an extradimensional being, like a ghost in a haunted house.
I'm not going to try to say what all this means, because it's too short and ambiguous to be nailed down. That's not a bad thing, I think. It's also serving the song quite well, while being uncompromisingly Svankmajer. It's only four minutes long, but at least this means you can watch it and then, on a whim, watch it again. It also has evil shoes.
Incidentally the single, Another Kind of Love, sold quite well, but the solo album it was on (Wolf) failed to chart.