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
A little girl goes down to the basement cellar to fetch some potatoes, and finds all her hidden fears about the cellar depicted in animated form. Continue reading
A three-part depiction of various forms of communication. ‘Factual Discussion’ depicts three heads (made up of fruit, kitchen utensils and writing implements respectively) endlessly devouring and regurgitating each other. ‘Passionate Discourse’ shows two clay figures romantically intertwined, and the problems with dealing with the end product of their passion, while ‘Exhaustive Discussion’ shows two animated heads playing a bizarre variant of the old scissors-paper-stone game. Continue reading
The first colour film by Czech master director František Vlácil ADELHEID is an emotional tale of two lovers trapped in the march of history.
In the aftermath of WWII, a Czech airman returns home from his tour of duty with the British RAF, intending to claim a German factory located in the Sudetenland along the Czech-German border. There he meets the beautiful Adelheid, the former owner’s daughter who once lived in the estate but is now reduced to servitude. The Czech airman falls in love with Adelheid, but lingering resentment and bitter political strife stand in the way of their happiness. (-Second Run) Continue reading
Marek is a 16-year-old from a provicial village who runs away to Prague when he begins to fail at school. He mugged shortly after arriving in the city and is rescued by Honza with the promise of work. Marek is taken to an apartment, drugged, and becomes a male prostitute. He is a bit smarter that his collegues and teams up with a friend, David, in order to go after bigger scores–to cash in and get out. They manage to stash away a bit of money, but when it comes time to return home, Marek loses his nerve and is soon back in the city. Continue reading