Happy Thursday! Today’s issue of Animation Obsessive is one we’ve wanted to do for a long, long time. We’re talking about the stop-motion feature The Pied Piper (Krysař) by director Jiří Barta.
The Pied Piper is a canonical piece of puppet animation. It’s a grim film that draws on the many versions of the Pied Piper legend — which could get quite dark. We see a city rot itself, and doom itself, through its own greed and evil. Here, the Pied Piper becomes a figure of almost Old Testament justice. There’s an apocalyptic tone to it all.
The film dates to 1986, to communist Czechoslovakia. At that time, Barta was a rising star who cited Jan Švankmajer as one of his chief influences. Even so, the style of The Pied Piper owes more to Gothic art, cubism and German Expressionism. It doesn’t resemble other puppet films — its world and cast are crooked and gnarled, like medieval wood-carvings that’ve been bent into angular, modernist shapes.
It’s an incredible piece, and it sticks with you. The Pied Piper is one of the films that first stirred our interest in Eastern European animation as a whole. Writing about it has been a long-term goal for us. We’ve built up to this point. Now, finally, we’re ready.
Here we go!
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Animation Obsessive to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.