Sunday, February 7, 2010

"The Ossuary," Jan Švankmajer, 1970

To continue on the theme of bone chapels begun in my last post, thanks so much to Morbid Anatomy reader and commentator Mirloniger for pointing me in the direction of Jan Švankmajer--muse to the Brothers Quay--and his short film "Kostnice" (The Ossuary), devoted to the wonders of the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutná Hora, a truly epic bone chapel located in an ancient town near Prague in the Czech Republic. This film was commissioned in 1970 to celebrate the work of František Rint--the man responsible for the bone compositions that fill the chapel--on the centenary of the completion of his osteo-masterwork in 1870.

Kinoeye: New Perspectives on European Film describes the film thusly:
One of the neglected masterpieces produced during Švankmajer's early career is Kostnice (The Ossuary, 1970), a "horror documentary" shot in one of his country's most unique and bleakest monuments, the Sedlec Monastery Ossuary. The Sedlec Ossuary contains the bones of some 50 to 70 thousand people buried there since the Middle Ages. Over a period of a decade, they were fashioned by the Czech artist František Rint with his wife and two children into fascinating displays of shapes and objects, including skull pyramids, crosses, a monstrance and a chandelier containing every bone of the human body. Their work was completed in 1870, and these artifacts have been placed in the crypt of the Cistercian chapel as a memento mori for the contemplation of visitors.
You can watch the entire film above, or by clicking here. Click here to buy a copy of it from the Morbid Anatomy Bookstore. To see previous post on osteo-architecture, click here. To see a previous post on the art of the Brothers Quay, click here. More on the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutná Hora can be found by clicking here. Thanks, Mirloniger, for sending this along!


Unknown said...

So cool to see this here!! I only discovered Jan Švankmajer's "Kostnice" about 3 years ago, but I made all my friends & family watch it at the time. Knew I loved this blog, but here's yet another reason!

Anonymous said...

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JE said...

Thank you. Mirloniger, for introducing me to this wonderful film of which I had never heard! And glad you like it to, KSK!

(Morbid Anatomy)