In The Attic (Jiri Barta, 2009): Czech Republic

Reviewed by Lisa Blondell.  Viewed at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Hollywood.

  If you’re not particularly interested in seeing the re-released Toy Story but still have a passion for animated adventure stories, In The Attic would be a great alternative. Jiri Barta’s new stop motion film is extremely innovative, while also incorporating many aspects of popular films and historical events. Throughout this Czech film, Barta incorporates Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, the old damsel in distress, Noah’s Ark, and in my opinion, even contains the captive scene from Silence of The Lambs. Barta has admitted that the emperor (statue) of “The Land of Evil” is in fact portraying a historical figure, however, he would not admit to whom that was. It reminded me of Adolph Hitler. He is a powerful leader of a complete dictatorship interested in capturing, and has hundreds of “followers” (toys) willing to do anything he orders. The fact that he incorporates such meaningful events and classical tales, while also coming up with his own vision and childhood imagination makes this film unique and relative to both adults and children.

Being a doll isn’t always as glamorous as it seems, especially if you have a giant, perverted head statue after you. To live in a world where blankets are waterfalls, pillows are clouds, and chess pieces are soldiers, you must completely use your imagination to be fully involved in the film. In The Attic takes the audience to a world of creativity and illusion and obstacles all happening inside an attic. The film does have live actors along with the animated stop motion and also a cartoon drawn world. It is very rare to include all three aspects within one film.

Comparing this film to Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, In The Attic has aspects that Anderson’s lacks. Sure, they are both stop motion adventure stories geared to both adults and children, but what Barta’s film does that Anderson’s does not is that it truly brings adults back to their childhood while remaining to dazzle childrens’ imagination.

I believe that a film is limited to how good it is if it does not advance the art of film itself. Jiri Barta’s In The Attic is not just another big budget or high concept adventure story, it is something I have never seen before. Of course there has been 2D puppet animation before and there will be more to come, but this film truly stuck out to me. This was definitely one of my top picks at the AFI film festival this year. The film has an underlining message about rebirth. The characters essentially get reborn throughout the film which overlooks the film industry today. The film industry is getting reborn with films such as In The Attic.

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