The Ossuary

The bones in the Sedlec Ossuary come from mass graves of up to 70,000 corpses from the C14th Black Death and the C15th Hussite Wars …

In 1870 the aristocratic family who owned the chapel employed a woodcarver, František Rint who created the arrangements seen in the Chapel. A hundred years later in 1970 surrealist animator Jan Svankmajer was commissioned by the Czech government to make a film about the ossuary to mark the centenary of Rint’s creations.

The amazing soundtrack was composed by Zdeněk Liška, based on a surrealist poem by Jaques Prevert How to draw a portrait of a bird.  Svankmajer’s original soundtrack – a field recording of a bossy and officious guide herding a bunch of anarchic and disobedient school children around the ossuary – was banned by the Czech authorities as subversive.

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