Jabberwocky (1971 film)

Jabberwocky (Czech: Žvahlav aneb šatičky slaměného Huberta) is a 1971 Czechoslovak animated short film written and directed by Jan Švankmajer, based loosely on the 1871 poem "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll and on a children's book Anička skřítek a Slaměný Hubert by Vítězslav Nezval, which is referenced in the Czech title.[1][2]

English title card
Directed byJan Švankmajer
Written byJan Švankmajer
Produced byErna Kmínková
Marta Šíchová
Jiří Vaněk
CinematographyBoris Baromykin
Edited byHelena Lebdušková
Music byZdeněk Liška
Krátký film Praha
Distributed bySTM
Release date
Running time
14 minutes


The poem by Lewis Carroll is read as a wardrobe is shown moving through a forest. The wardrobe opens to reveal a strange playroom inside that is watched over the portrait of a stern old man; the wardrobe itself is now against the far wall of the playroom. A boy's sailor suit escapes the wardrobe to dance around by itself before the room is filled with branches that quickly sprout leaves, bloom, and produce fruit. The fruits fall from the branches and burst on the floor, where they are revealed to be full of worms. A doll is knocked over and other, smaller dolls scramble free of its body. They are in turn cooked and consumed by still larger dolls. Still more small dolls are chased around a table by a flatiron, which presses them into paper dolls. The sailor suit returns to unleash an army of tin soldiers that do battle with a large baby doll that eventually defeats them; the baby doll then opens to reveal the rubber nipple of a baby bottle. A child's lesson book opens and tears out its own leaves to make paper airplanes that fly away through the window. A folding knife with a handle shaped like a woman appears on a table that is covered with a lace doily. The knife unfolds itself and does a short dance while its point tears the doily to tatters. The knife closes itself into its woman-shaped handle and blood pours out of the woman's back, staining the doily's remains.

Interspersed between these scenes is a recurring sequence of a child's maze drawn on toy blocks, in which a line struggles to free itself; whenever it hits a dead end, a live-action black cat leaps out and scatters the blocks.[3] In the final sequence, the line reaches the end of the maze and is free to scrawl all over the walls of the playroom. The line pauses to deface the portrait of the old man before fleeing out of the window. The wardrobe opens once more to reveal a man's dark, stodgy suit where the playful sailor suit once hung and the black cat in a cage.


The film was produced by Krátký film Praha for Weston Woods Studios.[4]

Home mediaEdit

Jabberwocky was included on a DVD Cinema 16: European Short Films, anthology of short films by famous European directors, which was released by the studio Warp Films on June 5, 2006.[5]


  1. ^ "Žvahlav aneb Šatičky Slaměného Huberta". čsfd.cz.
  2. ^ Asución Lopéz-Varela Azcárate (December 2015). "Transmedial Ekphrasis. From analogic to digital formats". International Journal of Transmedia Literacy (IJTL). Vol. 1, no. 1. LED Edizioni Universitarie. p. 56. ISBN 9788879167604.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2007-08-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Žvahlav aneb šatičky slaměného Huberta". BFI. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Cinema 16 - European Short Films". Dvdbeaver.com. 2006-06-05. Retrieved 2017-04-01.

External linksEdit