Jan Němec’s original proposal in 1966 to adapt Kafka’s Metamorphosis as a theatrical feature was rejected by the Czech state film board. In 1974, he was forced into exile — first seeking refuge in Germany: Continue reading
A year after Franz Kafka’s work had been translated from German into his native Czech, this experimental feature was full of Kafka’s tone and style. The story is about Harold, an isolated figure in an overwhelming world of totalitarian bureaucracy. Harold tries to find the elusive Joseph Kilian, an old acquaintance, in Prague. When Harold stumbles across a state-run cat-lending store, he impulsively rents a feline for the day. Later, he attempts to return the cat and finds that the store no longer exists. Now with a furry companion, Harold continues his search for Kilian. Written and directed by Pavel Juracek, this 40 minute film effectively aims its allegorical shots at personality cults and the absurdities of a totalitarian regime. × Continue reading
In the 1800s, a baron, who is the owner of a castle known as The Devil’s Castle and who is also an obsessed opera fan, keeps the body of his favorite diva preserved in a crypt in the castle. In order to keep away potentially nosy visitors, the baron’s mad-scientist assistant, invents all sorts of spooky phenomena in order to give the castle a creepy reputation. Continue reading
A cautionary tale about the dangers of unprotected promiscuity among heterosexuals, this story chronicles the exploits of three good friends. Pepe is the playboy of the bunch: despite having a lovely girlfriend, he finds a way to have sex with as many women as possible. His buddies from time to time exchange girlfriends with him. Though they are by no means the lothario he is, they do quite enough bed-hopping to get into trouble. When it becomes obvious that Pepe has gotten AIDS, his buddies, afraid for themselves, get mean. Continue reading
REVIEW by Susan Doll (from facets.org):
The Czech New Wave rode the tide of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia that lasted throughout the 1960s, which accounted for their ability to make highly personal films in individual styles. At the same time, this generation attracted international attention and acclaim. However, they were not the only directors to benefit from the freer political climate. Older directors from the postwar period, and even those of the prewar generation, made films they probably could not have made earlier in their careers.
Witches’ Hammer (Kladivo na Carodejnice), adapted from a novel by Vaclav Kaplicky, was historical drama roughly based on actual events, but Vavra became particularly fascinated with the subject matter while researching the film. Witches’ Hammer is a tale about the witch trials in Czechoslovakia in the 17th century, which unfolds from the perspective of an educated priest. The priest watches as his village’s most prosperous citizens are arrested by the Inquisitor, who impounds their property. The priest tries to stop the false accusations and fear-mongering, but he himself is unjustly accused. As he started the project, Vavra grew increasingly interested in the history behind the witch trials-why it happened in a country that did not practice witchcraft, how the victims were manipulated into confessing to actions they did not commit, and why they begged for swift punishment. Continue reading
Description: The uncompromising director Věra Chytilová, well-known for her harshly mocking attacks on people’s failings and foibles, has created a new filmic parable on human weakness with Vyhnání z ráje (Expulsion from Paradise, 2001), her most recent film. Although fully within the Chytilová tradition of biting moral fable, the film has had a lukewarm reception from Czech and international critics.
The main story of Vyhnání z ráje concerns Rosta, a film director (Bolek Polívka), who is shooting a film at a nudist beach. Everyone in the film crew has different ideas about the genre and style of the film being shot: The director tries to create an artistic work, an experimental metaphor about Adam and Eve; the Russian producer Igor (Milan Šteindler) hopes to see an erotic lovestory produced; and the screenwriter (played by theatre director and dramatist J A Pitínský) aims to express his positive philosophy about humanity through the film. Continue reading
Svankmajer’s music video for Hugh Cornwell’s “Another Kind of Love.” Continue reading