Czechoslovakia, 1958 (MIFF 2017, Sci-Fi)

Director: Karel Zeman


Often called the Czech Méliès, Karel Zeman was one of the world's most inventive animators and his uniquely poetic magnum opus is the first steampunk film, gloriously bringing the stories and visuals of Jules Verne to life.

Evil pirates kidnap an ingenious but naïve scientist (and his assistant, who narrates), take him back to their volcano lair and compel him to build them a WMD in this amalgamation of several of Verne's tales – primarily the little-known 1896 novel Facing the Flag.

Plot aside, the film's extraordinary aesthetic will take your breath away. Zeman faithfully translated onscreen the original 19th-century steel engravings that illustrated Verne's novels using a combination of live action; hand-painted, cut-out and stop-motion animation; puppetry, models and miniatures; and more. The result is an eye-popping cinematic tableau unlike anything seen before, or since, although filmmakers from Jan Švankmajer and Terry Gilliam to Ray Harryhausen, Tim Burton and Wes Anderson have tried.

The most successful Czechoslovakian film of all time, it won several awards, including the Grand Prix at the Brussels International Film Festival, and was named one of the ten best films of 1958 by Alain Resnais. Now digitally restored, Invention for Destruction is a true big-screen occasion.

'In the pantheon of the greatest hybrid animation/live action films ever made. Invention for Destruction is an imaginative delight, and a stunning personal achievement. Once seen, never forgotten.' – Senses of Cinema

As part of The Bigger Picture program, Invention for Destruction will be introduced by Dr Djoymi Baker from the Faculty of Arts, The University of Melbourne.

The digital restoration of The Invention for Destruction is a part of the project Restoring The World of Fantasy. Restoring The World of Fantasy is a joint project of The Czech Film Foundation, Karel Zeman Museum and Czech Television. The aim of the project is to digitally restore within three years selected films produced by Karel Zeman to the finest quality, to screen them in cinemas and bring them to life again. The aim of the project is also to inform the public about the importance of the digital restoration.

Project partners are The Czech Film Foundation, The Karel Zeman Museum and Czech Television in cooperation with Universal Production Partners with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and with support of The Minister of Culture of Czech Republic Mgr. Daniel Herman.

See also...


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