The Dung Beetle is late, the Parasite is asleep and Mrs Larva is more interested in her knitting than the director’s instructions. It’s clear: this amateur theatre company has a long way to go before they can perform their version of The Insect Play, a famous satirical work from 1922 by the brothers Karel and Josef Čapek which features insects with decidedly human traits: greed, egocentrism, jealousy.
The misanthropic play suffered severe criticism due to its pessimistic finale, explains Jan Švankmajer at the start of his film Insect. Under pressure, the authors adapted the end, to Švankmajer’s chagrin. Naturally, the 83-year old master of surrealist cinema gave the Čapeks' work his own, unique twist. With animations, behind-the-scenes footage and various intermezzos, he has turned Insect into a witty, fantastical satire on theatre, film, dreams and everything that makes humans human – and insects, insects.