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
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
(…) 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
Author: cranesareflying from usa
A measured, evenly paced, extremely controlled, psychologically mesmerizing film about a doctor’s split with his wife, and his subsequent return to his Communist homeland, brilliantly underplayed by Rudolf Hrusinsky, a man in real life who was blacklisted in Czechoslovakia for his anti-Communist leanings, and only the slightest movement in his face could ever be detected. But he was superb in this role, his dignity challenged at every turn, but always remaining intact. He is introduced to a countryside clinic by the local Communist lackey, his quarters are spare and without possessions. Immediately, as the outsider, he is the object of the entire town’s suspicion, represented in a single scene where he is smoking potatoes, something he must have learned as a child, in a small attempt to gather some semblance of himself. Yet across the landscape a cry is heard for him to put out the fire; that’s not allowed; what is he, crazy? Every attempt to help someone is met with whispers behind his back and with the town’s scorn. The psychological pressure to allow so little to be shown, always holding everything inside, as who knows, someone near could, and would use any piece of information against you. This film reminded me of some of the early Kieslowski films, such as the rarely seen CURRICULUM VITAE, where in that film the Communist Party pressure is relentless to obtain confessions from your neighbors for the most ordinary actions of men. To live under the pressure of such a constant cloud of suspicion, where the Party representative is rarely even seen or heard, is wonderfully transparent in this film. Continue reading
Once more, Vlacil’s films are largely about subjects that are not seen on screen. With some spoilers, here we have a story set in 1947 when Ukrainian right-wing anti-Communist guerillas, looking like and feeling like Nazi’s, are trying to fight their way through Czechoslovakia to Austria. They come out of the forest to occupy a family’s countryside farm house, kidnapping a doctor to help heal one of their wounded, but this could just as easily be about the post-war occupying forces in Eastern Europe, or the occupying Soviet forces in the 60′s, as there is an initial belief that there is nothing anyone can do, or to coin a STAR TREK phrase, `Resistance is futile.’ The film has a very languid pace which establishes the mood and pace of this small village, much of it is wordless, with a Sergio Leone acid-western feel, easily the most outstanding feature is the original music by Zdenek Liska, which plays on the inner psychological turmoil, providing an unseen character in the film. The father gives the appearance of passivity, as he is outmanned and outgunned, while his eager young son wants a taste of immediate revenge. But a wiser course of action is called for, waiting, giving the impression he is yielding to their demands, as the father wants to protect the lives of his wife and children, which allows for large doses of screen time where various family members are performing daily farm chores, just trying to survive this ordeal, while interspersed in each frame are men with machine guns who sadistically threaten their every impulse. This farmhouse under occupation represents a country under occupation, all feel like helpless victims where every moment is spent in fear, any minute things could spin helplessly out of control, and this film skillfully gets under everyone’s skin. Continue reading