From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Otesánek, also known as Little Otik or Greedy Guts, is a 2000 absurdist film by Czech couple Jan Švankmajer and Eva Švankmajerová. The movie is a surreal-comedic live action, stop motion-animated feature film set mainly in a poor apartment building in the Czech Republic.
Karel Horák (Jan Hartl) and Božena Horáková (Veronika Žilková) are a childless couple and for medical reasons are doomed to remain so. While on vacation with their neighbors at a house in the country, Karel decides to buy the house at the suggestion of his neighbor. When he is fixing up the house, he digs up a tree stump that looks vaguely like a baby. He spends the rest of the evening cleaning it up and then presents it to his wife. She names the stump Otík and starts to treat it like a real baby. She then works out a plan to fake her pregnancy and becoming more and more impatient she speeds up the process and 'gives birth' one month early.
Otík comes alive and has an insatiable appetite. Alžbětka (Kristina Adamcová), the neighbor's daughter, who has been suspicious all along, when she reads the fairy tale about Otesánek, the truth sets in for her. Meanwhile little Otík has been just eating and growing. At one point he eats some of Božena's hair, and another day she returns home to find that Otík has eaten their cat. Karel and his wife are at odds with Karel pushing for killing the thing and Božena defending it as their child. The baby later consumes a postal worker (Gustav Vondráček) and then a social worker (Jitka Smutná).
The resulting deaths lead Karel to tie up and lock Otík away in the basement of their apartment building, leaving Otík to starve. Alžbětka secretly takes over as prime caretaker. She tries to keep Otík fed with normal human food, but, when her mother stops her, she is forced to drawing straws (matches in this case) to choose a person to feed to Otík. The first victim is an old man and pedophile, Mr. Žlábek (Zdeněk Kozák), and the second victim is Karel himself, who had come with a chainsaw but on seeing Otík calls him "son" and drops the chainsaw. In the end, Otík disobeys Alžbětka despite repeated warnings and eats the cabbage patch of the paní správcová (Dagmar Stříbrná), meaning porter's wife or an old woman. In the fairy tale upon which the movie is based, the old woman kills Otesanek by splitting his stomach open with a hoe, however, the film ends with her descending the stairs; the audience is not allowed to witness the deed.
- Veronika Zilkova as Bozena Horáková
- Jan Hartl as Karel Horák
- Kristina Adamcová as Alzbetka
- Jaroslava Kretschmerová as Alzbetka's Mother
- Pavel Nový as Alzbetka's Father
- Dagmar Stríbrná as Pani spravcova (the caretaker)
- Zdenek Kozák as Mr. Zlabek
- Gustav Vondracek as Mladek, the postman
- Jitka Smutná as Bulankova, the social worker
The film is critically acclaimed with multiple awards, and it is certified fresh at the film news/reviews website rottentomatoes.com. The Czech Critics Awards named it the best feature film. It won three Czech lions for best art direction (Jan Švankmajer and Eva Švankmajerová), best film, best film poster (Eva Svankmajerová), as well as the Czech Critics Awards. It was nominated for best actress, best costumes, best director, best screenplay, best sound, and best supporting actress. It also won two awards at the Pilsen film festival.
Template:Citation The film explores our interruptions of natural processes, our desire for the impossible, our endless hunger, the nasty side of childhood, and our hubris in believing we can control the mysteries of life. "We have touched on one of the basic myths of this civilization: the myth of Adam and Eve, or, if you wish, a myth analogous to that of Faust," Svankmajer wrote in his press notes for the film. "I think that now, after the mapping of the human genome, such myths are becoming increasingly relevant."
- An animated version of the same story formed the basis of the video for "Ripen", a single of 2003 by The Mountaineers.
- Eva Švankmajerová, Švankmajer's wife, animated the Otesánek storybook in the film.
- Švankmajer's earlier short film Meat Love appears as a commercial.
- There is a Philadelphia based doom metal band by the same name.