Conspirators of Pleasure (1997)



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Movie Info

Czech animator Jan Svankmajer gained acclaim and notoriety for his eerie, nightmarish stop-motion animated pieces fashioned out of discarded dolls, battered marionettes, and pieces of junk. His films such as Alice and Faust delved headlong into the subconscious and dredged up images that were imbued not only with a woozy sense of dread but with a savage sense of wit. Svankmajer's third feature -- and his first (mostly) live-action film -- is an absurdist look at some very weird sexual adventurers. Peony (Petr Meissel) is a nebbish bachelor with a passion for porno mags and poultry. At the film's outset, he pulls a live chicken from his wardrobe and has his neighbor, Mrs. Loubalova (Gabriela Wilhelmova), cut its throat -- which she does with a fair amount of relish and glee. Using the head as a model, he fashions a papier-mâché chicken mask -- made from old pornography -- and an accompanying chicken suit. Later, in a bizarre backwater ritual, Peony dons his chicken costume and taunts and crushes an effigy of his neighbor. Mrs. Loubalova apparently harbors similar bloodthirsty fantasies for Peony -- in a similarly weird ritual, set in an abandoned church, she whips and then drowns a straw effigy of her fellow apartment tenant. Surrounding this unlikely romance of sorts are the onanistic obsessions of another quartet of very kinky characters. Mrs. Malkova (Barbora Hrzanova), the neighborhood postwoman, has a penchant for balling up pieces of bread for unlikely purposes. Kula (Jiri Labus), the guy who sells Peony his nudie mags, has created an elaborate autoerotic device connected to his TV, complete with robot controls and rubber hands, designed to, um, augment his enjoyment of the news -- especially when read by Mrs. Beltinska (Anna Wetlinska). Mrs. Beltinska, in turn, reaches the height of on-the-air bliss by having her toes sucked by a pair of carp hidden beneath her desk. And finally her husband, a police inspector, is much more interested in scrubbing his naked self with rollers spiked with nails or funnels filled with fur than in fulfilling his marital duties.


Critic Reviews for Conspirators of Pleasure

All Critics (7)

The film's handmade look fits the material, since it's about desires too personal to be mass-produced.

Mar 5, 2002 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Agreeably witty and bizarre, but patience is required to sustain interest in its intricately oddball, non-verbalized story for nearly an hour-and-a-half.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Conspirators of Pleasure

Six bizarre fetishists -- not necessarily focused on sex -- carry out their unique, elaborate rituals in Jan Svankmajer's unsettling "Conspirators of Pleasure." Svankmajer, best known for stop-motion animations, turns his microscope onto live actors with predictably provocative results. He retains his coroner's eye, eternally digging into the inner gears and giblets of his subjects, but his ability to blur the line between people and machines is both a talent and a handicap. The guy just has no sense of humanity. But what a remarkable set of impossible behaviors he has constructed. Revealing too many details would spoil the fun (advice: skip this website's exhaustive synopsis), but let's just say the perverse games involve items like fur scraps, bread balls, false arms, rolling pins, live fish, porn mags, chicken masks, straw and a balloon of blood. It's just a shame that he is so endlessly fascinated with slurps, sloshes and squirts -- any chance he has for a tight shot of something (anything!) making an unpleasant noise, he grabs with gusto. The action literally turns nauseating at times.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

Svankmajer is more interested in detailing than developing & the film feels like a stretched short movie but overall interesting & fun, I've yet to see Faust & Lunacy but Little Otik is my favourite Svankmajer so far

Arash Xak
Arash Xak

Super Reviewer

This movie probably deserves a higher rating, but shit: this is not for me. It's pretty obscene in a harmless way, but come to think of it -sick as it is- there are probably people walking this earth getting of on stuff like this. I mean hey, as long as there are people that pay money for used socks and underwear (this is the most "civilized" example that I can come up with), this doesn't seem very far fetched. Anywayz, Sigmund Freud is going to have a field day with this one ;)

Saskia D.
Saskia D.

Super Reviewer

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