Invention for Destruction, Dir. Karel Zeman, Czechoslovakia, 1958, 82 mins, English and Czech with English subtitles
Often described as the ‘Czech Méliès’, Karel Zeman’s innovations in the use of live-action and animation mark him as one of the great masters of 20th Century fantasy cinema, alongside his more celebrated Western counterparts Willis H. O’Brien, George Pal and Ray Harryhausen. His profound influence has spanned generations, including on film artists Jan Švankmajer, Tim Burton, the Quay Brothers, Terry Gilliam and Wes Anderson.
Based on the writings of Jules Verne and the illustrations by Léon Bennett, Alphonse de Neuville and Édouard Riou, Invention for Destruction remains the most commercially lucrative Czech film ever produced. The film, which was released internationally to huge success in 1960 as The Fabulous World of Jules Verne, is also Zeman's most beloved work. Wildly inventive, and groundbreaking in its combination of live action, animation and design, Invention for Destruction created a ‘steampunk’ aesthetic decades ahead of its time. The film is a heartfelt homage to Verne’s tales of science and adventure, and a cry against humanity’s propensity for self-destruction.
This screening is introduced by John Stevenson, a British animation filmmaker and puppeteer best known for directing the Academy Award-nominated animated feature film Kung Fu Panda (2008) with Mark Osborne. Stevenson has over 40 years animation experience and began his career in the entertainment industry via Jim Henson's The Muppet Show.