The Last Thief 1987
The Last Thief starts off at night time with a robber breaking into a supposed house. While he starts off small with a single gold coin, he notices more valuables that further entice him. His greed knows no bounds as he stuffs what appears to be a bowling ball sized bag full of anything of worth; from clothes, to fine silver wear, to even an old clock. As he searches the house, the thief grabs and breaks a pearl necklace, sending the individual beads everywhere. The thief tries to pick them up and stumbles upon a betting dice game being played by the house’s residents. Greeted with solemn faces he is invited to join them and reluctantly sits down. Still nervous from his thieving, he calms down after rolling his first winning hand.
Being a fan of the stop motion work of Mike Jittlov, creator of The Wizard of Speed and Time, I instantly fell in love with Jiri Barta, The shadows on everything from the thief’s face, to the furniture, add to the eeriness of the segment. With no dialog and mostly just noises, the mood is conveyed exclusively through context clues similar to the films of Sylvain Chomet’s. The whole time I felt like I was in a trance and the soft violin background music only enhanced the fact.
Riddles for Candy 1987
Riddles for Candy stumbles upon an anteater type creature who can will its body effortlessly into anything it desires, from cats to roosters, and even a beehive with several bees. The creature lives inside a book and is chasing after a piece of hard candy it finds throughout the pages. While shifting from page to page, the creature encounters riddles written to him on the page and narrated by a disembodied head.
I did enjoy the humor of the little creature trying to solve the riddles and hearing the incoherent noises resulting in the trial and error of its attempts. He growls a lot, like when at one point he is chased by a bunch of geese. It’s cute, simple, and short, yet does not go on any longer than it should. Out of the three segments, this would be my least favorite as it did not grab my attention as well as the other two. Riddles for Candy is not memorable, with the main crux of the riddles leaving me simply confused. Maybe these Czech riddles are culture sensitive or just not intended for me?
The Vanished World of Gloves 1982
The Vanished World of Gloves starts as a construction worker digs up some junk from the ground with an excavator and happen to find random gloves and other oddities, a film project canister. The man takes it home, sets it up on his projector and begins to watch. He finds that the reel contains several shorts including the gloves from earlier as characters. They range from a lovers’ quarrel with parallel men’s and woman’s gloves, to a white glove being chased by a group of black gloves, to a drunk orgy of gloves. At the end of each short, it cuts back to the construction worker’s hands doing different actions, like lighting a cigarette or pouring himself a drink.
I feel the use of Jiri Barta’s stop motion expertise shines the best in The Vanished World of Gloves. His ability to manipulate the gloves and give them personality is astounding; from fighting each other, to chasing, and even showing affection between the different types of gloves. This is what makes The Vanished World of Gloves not only the most interesting short but also the most technical.