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Conspirators Of Pleasure

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Conspirators Of Pleasure

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Since its coinage earlier this century, the term "surreal" has been tossed around an awful lot, almost to the point where it has lost its meaning, as if it were merely a synonym for "strange" or "bizarre." True surrealism—whether in art, film, or literature—uses the strange and bizarre to disrupt notions of reality for the purpose of questioning them. A true surrealist, Czech animator Jan Svankmajer has practiced his craft for years, though he's only fairly recently received recognition on this side of the former Iron Curtain. Even working out of a tightly controlled state, coded messages still slip by, and the satirical edge Svankmajer honed under Communism remains sharp. In Conspirators Of Pleasure, a full-length, mostly live-action feature film, Svankmajer takes on the subject of desire. Using no dialogue, the film follows six city-dwellers, examining the way they present themselves to the world and how that world differs dramatically from their private obsessions. One constructs elaborate machines to get closer to the pretty anchorwoman with whom he's smitten. Another, for reasons not immediately apparent, compulsively rolls up tiny balls of bread. None of it makes any literal sense, but literalness isn't what Svankmajer has in mind. The exaggerated fetishes of Conspirators Of Pleasure's characters may look ridiculous, but the instantly recognizable human behavior surrounding those fetishes makes it clear what Svankmajer's real target is. For this video release, Conspirators has been paired with Food, an equally enjoyable short film by Svankmajer in which consumerism takes on some extreme forms.