Apr 13, 2011


Jiri Trnka’s The Hand is a puppet animation with a theme equivalent to the Twilight Zone. It is a story about an artist who makes ceramic pots, so that when the pot for his beloved plant breaks, he can replace it with another one. Here he lives his peaceful life, devoid of any awareness to events that would be taking place in the world outside. But then, he suddenly hears a noise coming from the window, and a giant hand swoops into his house. The hand starts to overstay his welcome when he changes the artist’s clay pot to a pointing hand, suggesting that the artist should make more clay hands like this. The artist dislikes this suggestion, and nudges the hand out the door; only for the hand to return, more persistent, and assertive, then before, until it reaches the point, where the hand is demanding that the artist make clay pointing hands instead of clay pots for his plant. He delivers a phone to the artist and calls him on it. Over the phone he tries to persuade the artist to make clay hands by offering him money, the artist denies the offer and kicks the phone out the window. The hand then returns with a television, and shows him how wonderful, and important the hand is. But again the artist refuses, and tries to smash the hand with a hammer, only for a darker hand to return and place him under arrest. He is hypnotized into placing his hands into hang ropes, where he is made into a marionette. The dark hand then carries the artist into a cage where he is forced to carve a giant pointing hand out of a stone block. The artist manages to escape and return to his home, only for the hand to come back, and back, and back, and back, up to the point where the artist can stand it no longer, and dies. The dark hand, realizing that the artist is dead, provides a funeral for him, making it appear that the artist died a peaceful death. This film was an allegory, about life in a totalitarian society. The hand represented the central power, and the artist represented the citizen. It was first released in 1965, but was criticized by the “Cult of Personality” which was pretty much run by Stalin, and was shortly after banned and never released to the public again.  

- Jon
image was taken from flikr.com 

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