On Sunday 5pm we’ll be screening the UK Premiere of Jan Balej’s animated feature based on the classic fairytale ‘The Little Mermaid.
At Barbican book tickets
Little From The Fish Shop (Jan Balej, Czech Republic)
One day the Sea King and his family find themselves forced to move from their home deep underneath the surface of the sea and live among humans. In order to make a living, the former ruler runs an ordinary fish shop, helped by his three daughters. The rundown industrial town in which the sea family lives harbours many dangers, but the greatest of all seems to be love: one day the youngest fish daughter “Little” casts an eye at the dubious brothel owner J. J., and a deep affection is kindled in her tiny fish heart. But who would ever fall for a girl with a fishtail covered in scales?
Director Jan Balej follows in the footsteps of Czech animation pioneer Jiri Trnka with this sumptuously rich stop-motion masterpiece based on the fairytale “The Little Mermaid”. A tragic and moving parable to touch the hearts of all ages.
Jan Balej – Directors statement
Anderson’s ‘Little Mermaid’ offers a beautiful and powerful story full of artistic inspiration, abundant in different settings, featuring identifiable, loveable and unique characters, giving us the opportunity to work with fairytale archetypes.
A mermaid who fell in love with a human ‘prince’ and decided to become human for him is a classical message of love in the world’s literature. Bringing Anderson’s story up-to-date and matching it with the reality of today’s world gives us the opportunity to approach our present viewer and address the outlook on moral values of today.
The family of the Sea King symbolises people coming from faraway exotic countries and different cultures. They come in hope for something better, but our world often doesn’t accept them, so they remain a minority, isolated in their small communities.
The bizarre backdrop of a harbour city was chosen intentionally. First, cities like this have always been melting pots of various ethnicities – each with their own flavour and character. Secondly, this backdrop shows best the contract between the purity and innocence, and the filth, evil and dark side of our times. Also, these cities are a rich source of artistic reference allowing us to make excursions into various uncommon settings. And finally there is the mysterious underwater world representing an independent yet inseparable chapter.
I opted for the technology of puppet animation based upon the rich tradition of Czech animated films that I’ve been working with since the very beginning of my film career. It is the typical ‘jerkiness’ or ‘grain’ of the animation technique paired with the feel of authenticity of the scenery that together help evoke the inclement atmosphere of a harbour-district.
Little From The Fish-Shop is a story of love unfulfilled, brought from the 200 year-old fairytale into the present life of the family of the Sea King and his daughter Little, who one day, instead of a Prince Charming falls for a streetwise Night Club owner. Her love remains unfulfilled and it hurts. Although the witches power helps Little become human and experience love, the same power can’t reverse the curse and make Little commit a crime for the sake of fulfilling her love. Little’s love remains pure to the very end.
Drawing a special connection between magic and reality is something that I have been interested in for a very long time. I tried to use the same kind of narrative and angle of vision in my previous films too. This makes Little From The Fish Shop the next stop on this journey.
Jan Balej – Director/Designer/Co-writer, 2015