Frantisek Vlácil – Marketa Lazarová (1967)

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Quote:
In less than a minute, before the film’s opening titles even conclude, Marketa Lazarová has announced itself as something potentially unique, perhaps indefinable. The first line of a brief prologue declares, “This tale was cobbled together almost at random,” before a title card reiterates what we’re about to see as a “rhapsody in film,” one “freely adapted” by director František Vláčil and co-screenwriter František Pavlíček. That all these things are soon confirmed, even exceeded, is certainly the impetus behind Marketa Lazarová’s reputation as simultaneously one of the greatest and most difficult works of Czechoslovakian cinema. Though it emerged at the height of what came to be known as the Czech New Wave, this 1967 film stands as something rare not just amid the anarchic vulgarity of Daisies or the emotional naïveté of Loves of a Blonde, but also among the greater cinematic landscape of the period. What this film is—along with being, yes, random, free, and rhapsodic—is something stranger, something paradoxical and altogether original: an intimate epic, a tangible hallucination, a visceral symphony, and, perhaps most affectingly, a beautiful display of brutality. Continue reading

Frantisek Vlácil – Mág (1987)

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IMDB Review
This movie is the very last opus of a great Czech director Frantisek Vlácil(1924-1999; Markéta Lazarová, Valley of the Bees, Concert at the End of Summer) and it’s truly his masterpiece.

In a breathtaking way it narrates some episodes from the life of possibly the most famous Czech poet Karel Hynek Mácha (1810-1836). Actually the title of the film “Mág” may have two meanings, the first one (a mage) refers to the talent of the deeply romantic Mácha (played by outstanding Jirí Schwarz), the second one is the contemporary transcription of Mácha’s most famous poem Máj (May). Continue reading

Frantisek Vlácil – Dým bramborové nate AKA Smoke on the Potato Fields [+extras] (1977)

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Synopsis:

In this 1976 character study by Czech director Frantisek Vlacil, a stout middle-aged physician whose marriage has come apart (Rudolf Hrusinsky) establishes a practice in a small town. Gradually he’s drawn into the lives of his patients—a childless couple, a pregnant girl with a stern mother, the son of a duck farmer—and each relationship reveals a bit more about him and the idyllic but insular community. Vlacil is hardly known for his light touch, but the film’s austere look and elegiac chamber music, at times Bressonian in their severity, convey the doctor’s quest for fulfillment and peace of mind. Hrusinsky, who was blacklisted in Czechoslovakia for his anticommunist stance, ennobles his role by underplaying it. Continue reading

Frantisek Vlácil – Adelheid (1970)

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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

Frantisek Vlácil – Pasácek z doliny AKA The Little Shepherd Boy from the Valley (1983)

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Quote:
One of the less known films from what I feel to be the greatest of Czech directors.

In 1947 in the Beskydy mountains are still traces of the war. Ten-year-old boy on a regular basis such as cows grazed in the meadow next to the destroyed German tanks. The boy has no father and his mother was serving with the farmer. Therefore, a small majority of the old shepherdess’s grandfather. Kid out of school is only used to feed cows and chop wood in winter. One evening in the forest he meets two mysterious figures. He thinks it’s the king of goblins with his secretary, because just such a story his grandfather told. In fact, they are not banderovci who, with the local mayor agree on the transition of its section and looting in the village … Ballad film shot on the novels of Ladislav Fuks Vláčil Francis in 1983. (Translated by Google) Continue reading

Frantisek Vlácil – Marketa Lazarová (1967)

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Mikolás and his brother Adam rob travelers for their tyrannical father Kozlík. During one of their “jobs” they end up with a young German hostage whose father escapes to return news of the kidnapping and robbery to the King. Kozlik prepares for the wrath of the King, and sends Mikolás to pressure his neighbor Lazar to join him in war. Persuasion fails, and in vengeance Mikolás abducts Lazar’s daughter Marketa, just as she was about to join a convent. The King, meantime, dispatches an army and the religious Lazar will be called upon to join hands against Kozlik. Stripped-down, surreal, and relentlessly grimy account of the shift from Paganism to Christianity. (IMDb) Continue reading

Frantisek Vlacil – Dablova past AKA The Devil’s Trap [+Extras] (1962)

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SYNOPSIS
(…) Set in the 18h century when the Inquistion was still in force. A small town is one day visited by a priest who is there on a secret mission. He is a member of the Inquisition sent to investigate the activities of a local miller. The miller and his son are the descendants of an old family whose ancestral home burned down a century ago, but was rebuilt from scratch. The miller inherited much of his knowledge about the land, water, and a building’s stability from generations of family experience. His reputation for finding water and predicting when a structure might collapse have come to the attention of the Inquisition -surely he must be in league with the Devil. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide Continue reading