The World of Jan Švankmajer’s INSECT Is an Anthill

22 January 2018

Czech Film

The World of Jan Švankmajer’s INSECT Is an Anthill


Director Jan Švankmajer likes to say he is a misanthrope. This probably explains why he took inspiration for Insect, his latest (and likely last) feature film, from The Insect Play, the misanthropic comedy by Karel and Josef Čapek, written in 1922, when “Adolf Hitler, still sitting in a Munich pub, drank beer while scratching out the Jewish ancestors from his family tree” (as Švankmajer says in the film’s prologue). Insect has its world premiere at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, in January. 


The picture opens with a group of six amateur actors meeting to rehearse the second act of The Insect Play. During the rehearsal, however, their lives begin to merge with those of their characters in the play, and the actors start behaving like insects: The amateur director/Mr. Cricket bullies to death his rival in love, Mr. Fly, and fathers a baby Cricket with the aging Rose/Mrs. Cricket. The railway man Nettle, playing the role of Parasite, devours Miss Jilly/the Larva, while the ever-so-diligent Mr. Forest rolls his ball as the Dung-Beetle.

Švankmajer is at it again, commenting caustically on contemporary civilization, which to him seems increasingly to look like an anthill. (Though he hastens to add that his film’s inner core is closer to Kafka’s The Metamorphosis than it is to the Čapek brothers’ drama.)

Read the full article by Kamila Boháčková, written for the Czech Film magazine Spring 2018, HERE




A local pub in a small town. It’s Monday and the bar is closed, chairs are turned up on the tables. The pub is empty except for six amateur actors sitting in a corner. They've met to rehearse “The Insect Play…


Jan Švankmajer






Jan Švankmajer

Director, Writer, Story, Set Designer

Czech Film Center

Národní 28, 110 00 Praha 1
Česká republika


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