I mean really, I stand in awe.
I didn't know, at first, that this was by Jiri (pronounced kind of like "Year-zhee") Barta. That would have sold me right then, since Czech [[ASIN:6305779635 animators]] and [[ASIN:B000GTJS9E Barta]] in particular display senses of the macabre, joyous, heroic, delicate, and mysterious all at once. (Since so many of them worked, or tried to, during the Soviet oppression, that seems rather natural.)
This, like any brilliant work of art, works at many levels. Physically the puppets and objects combine Svankamjer's sensibilities with Joseph Cornell's supply closet. In image creation, Barta melds live action with flip-books (or something close), stop animation, overdrawing, and I don't know what-all in computer animation and postproduction. The stop-animated puppets, however, embody unique personalities in their materials, structure, and articulation, even before you hear them speak,
Skipping ahead, I have to applaud the English language rendering. Taken in itself, it expresses the characters and helps bring them to life, even though English was never considered when the movie's original Czech version came out. But, the English is dubbed so it syncs to Czech mouth movements (mostly). This involved heroics on the parts of the scriptwriters, voice actors, and sound masters to create some cadence that a lip-reader might believe.
Backing up to the original, though, this represents a rather daring fable of personal freedom against the militarists, something Barta lived through before the Velvet Revolution. The plaster talking head had some reality in the Stalin era, and the spies and operatives remained real until the Stasi got their pink slips.
Behind and in front of everything else, though, this stands out as a major artwork, masterfully crafted and carrying more meaning than any one reading can disclose. I've admired Barta's art before. This, however, impresses me in more different ways than I can hope to name.