Jan Švankmajer – Do Pivnice
Down to the cellar (translated title)
~ 15 minutes
⚠️ The rest of this post includes spoilers. You better watch the film before reading.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein?

Jan Svankmajer’s Do Pivnice, an exquisitely crafted, surreal red riding hood story from Czechoslovakia, attempts to show us the world from a little girl’s point of view. This sounds intriguing, and, potentially, it is. Representing story with elliptical context always reduces the difficulty of telling a story and increase the poetical value of the movie.

On the other hand, very good lightning and pure cinematography cannot entirely be ignored. “Do Pivnice”, offers the eye the beauty of cinema with a good story. All roles are played by spectral and expressive actors. Their infrequently acting skills are suggested by the imagination of the girl. Jan Svankmajer painted her world gloomy and remarkably.

People miss their childhood and they ridiculously believe the innocence of children so using childish tales always brings you good feedback from those people. I don’t find mixing adults and children’s world ethical as long as they don’t share the same world, or have common communication way.

The director’s intimacy and truthfulness to himself keeps the soul of the movie so cold. Closeness between the viewer and the movie needs strong emotions, not strong expression way.

<img src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/09-31-causality.png" alt=“Causality (09:31)”

data-lightbox-src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/09-31-causality.png" data-lightbox-alt=“Causality (09:31)”

The basket looks empty and causality will make her fill it with potatoes in the blur.

<img src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/05-24-close-up.png" alt=“Close-up (05:24)”

data-lightbox-src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/05-24-close-up.png" data-lightbox-alt=“Close-up (05:24)”

Even though close-ups are so risky as general, those sensational shots are used successfully in this movie.

<img src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/06-34-curiosity.png" alt=“Curiosity (06:34)”

data-lightbox-src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/06-34-curiosity.png" data-lightbox-alt=“Curiosity (06:34)”

What is she looking at?

Svankmajer is not used to emphasise what’s going on directly. He lets us know the existence of something ominous tantalizingly. We don’t know what’s beyond the door just yet but we see the girl looking at it. He shows the main character looking at it in order to fill us with curiosity. We start to wonder. Too hard to guess. After seeing what she sees we feel more satisfied than seeing the happening directly.

<img src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/11-42-despair.png" alt=“Despair (11:42)”

data-lightbox-src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/11-42-despair.png" data-lightbox-alt=“Despair (11:42)”

The character looks little and she is centered on the screen. This means hopelessness and despair. She looked down at the cat at their first encounter, then now, it’s cat turn, she is in a bad position against the cat.

<img src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/12-16-fetish.png" alt=“Fetish (12:16)”

data-lightbox-src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/12-16-fetish.png" data-lightbox-alt=“Fetish (12:16)”

It seems like she is having a hard time while picking up potatoes. We used to see this scene while a girl kissing a boy.

I believe a fetishistic view of a character (especially for females), out of the blue, beautifies the moment.

<img src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/05-03-identification.png" alt=“Identification (05:03)”

data-lightbox-src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/05-03-identification.png" data-lightbox-alt=“Identification (05:03)”

searching, curiosity… she shares the same feelings with the viewer. we join her journey together with her. and yet we’re in the screen.

<img src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/05-35-lonely-people.png" alt=“Lonely People (05:35)”

data-lightbox-src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/05-35-lonely-people.png" data-lightbox-alt=“Lonely People (05:35)”

We assume that people who suffer from loneliness and solitude need a friend. Their refusal to this conflict can make them find the comradeship from no usual types.

Their harmony of living seems weird to society. But they were good elements of expression in cinema. And they’ll always be.

<img src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/10-22-objects.png" alt=“Objects (10:22)”

data-lightbox-src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/10-22-objects.png" data-lightbox-alt=“Objects (10:22)”

To understand the main characters mood, tone or feeling we basically look at the reactions of her. But how about taking a look at the reactions of the objects to her?

Focusing on objects expressions provides us new outlooks to the action.

And it creates a powerful atmosphere in the movie.

<img src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/11-27-the-cat.png" alt=“The cat (11:27)”

data-lightbox-src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/11-27-the-cat.png" data-lightbox-alt=“The cat (11:27)”

Unexpected animals and their mystical and interpretive behaviors have a huge role to connect human world to the nature like Lewis Carroll’s such as white rabbit.

I believe their characters in the movies are so important.

If a movie is a music. The animal can be in the cadenza section.

<img src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/05-33-society.png" alt=“Society (05:33)”

data-lightbox-src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/05-33-society.png" data-lightbox-alt=“Society (05:33)”

Is it the common negativity which creates the fear or is it the innocent huge fantasy?

Can personal fears affect the people more than common fears of the societies which are created for somebody’s benefits?

Can societies constrained positiveness itself be an instrument of fear?

<img src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/08-04-wide-shot.png" alt=“Wide-shot (08:04)”

data-lightbox-src="/projects/my-delusionary-rendezvous/down-to-the-cellar/08-04-wide-shot.png" data-lightbox-alt=“Wide-shot (08:04)”

Beggining of the movie was full of close-ups. The girl was not feeling secure.

Long shots usually keep the viewer away from the situation as well as providing safety. But for this scene, even in a wide shot, woman does eye contact with the girl, and with us.

The language of camera reveals that this woman is not reliable.