Little Otik


This film, based on a Czech fairy tale, is bizarre and horrifying.  The tale goes that a couple wants a child, but is barren.  One day the man finds a tree stump that reminds him of a child, so he shapes it like one. It, Otik/Otesanek comes alive, eats his parents, and rampages around eating mammals until he finds a cabbage patch.  He eats cabbages too, but the old woman who grew them guts him with a hoe.  Otik dies and everybody he ate comes back out.


This movie brings things into the modern day.  The barren wife is the Miss Haversham of wanting a child.  The director adds a lot of strange, obsessive oddities about food.  There’s a neighbor girl who ‘feeds’ Otik people to eat after his father gets creeped out and hides him.  Otik does wind up eating cabbages and presumably getting gutted by a hoe.  However, the (really long) film ends before we see his demise.


I have some theories about all this.

1-“Little Otik” is a statement promoting vegetarianism.  The thing eats whatever it’s told is food.  His parents quickly learn that after he’s tasted meat, Otik wants meat and he doesn’t distinguish between meat other people consume and people.  His interaction with the neighbor girl where she tells him she is not food shows that it can learn and distinguish, but that it sees no difference on its own between pork, cats, and humans.  It’s nothing but a great appetite that eats cattle and people in the tale.  As the girl says, it is ‘blameless’ because it only follows urges that it’s learned.  It even washes its ‘hands’, showing that it can be civilized when someone shows it how.  The thing is, everyone else eats meat too, so no one can explain the line between being carnivorous and murder.  When Otik discovers cabbages, that switch signals the end of this frightening appetite.  The old woman who grew the cabbages is never shown to eat anything else, so has no connection to anything but vegetables.  The ‘vegetarian’, then, saves the day by having the power to stop appetites from eating things they should not.  The director wants us to apply this to ourselves and become vegetarian.  We don’t need to see the actual climax of Otik dying because the consuming of cabbages is what’s really important here.


2. While not specifically vegetarian oriented, this film is demonstrating that the way we approach food is the same way that we approach the other fundamental aspects of life, death and sex.  The father sees babies in, of all things, food during is obsession (perhaps because they’re alive?).  The tree stump was the first non-food item.  Perhaps Otik constantly ate meat because he was a wooden thing trying to become the meat, flesh-and-blood baby the father wanted.  Eat enough meat he’ll become meat, or good enough.

The neighbor girl constantly read/talked about sex and birth while eating or when her mother cooked.  She also had a habit of oddly touching her food.  Clearly, in matters of sex, birth, and food she saw connections and wanted to be involved.  No wonder she was the one who linked food with death by feeding Otik humans.  That’s how she eats, so that’s how she’ll judge the line of behaviour concerning others’ life, death, and food.  Her father’s hallucinations about food just further illustrated that the way you perceive everything else in your life will always come back to what and how you eat.  As the frugal foodmaker, the girl’s mother was the one with the sense and fear to barricade people in and try to protect her family.  This is reminiscent of other fairy tales where wives are chosen and people are evaluated based on watching them eat (cheese, in the version I know).  Thus, the old woman has the power to kill Otik because she not only eats, she balances it out with growing more food to replenish the cycle.  Balance triumphs over excess!


3. Saying that sex and food are two appetites that everybody thinks they know about, but that still encounter all kinds of problems all the time.  The old pedophile’s desire for small girls-wrong, but the adults still like him and refuse to see it.  It’s clear the couple’s desire for a baby is unhealthy, but everyone refuses to see the awful results until the little girl basically tells them by reciting the fairy tale.  Everyone gets together and eats every day, but the food represents their own obsessions-sex, what alcohol does to commercials, children.  Only the person who grows their own food, who’s intimately acquainted with nurturing what goes into their body, instead of consuming or killing it, has the willpower and self-control to stop human appetites when they get nasty.  This version could say the film is a plea to return to more organic things food, or simply to be more aware of what’s around you.  Inside every human is a desire with the size and potential to become like Otik-slaughtering everything in its path.  Be aware and ready to control it!  And, for God’s sake, never just stand by and let someone be the Miss Haversham of anything, ever!


I know some of those overlapped, but I needed all thoughts about this movie out of my head.