About the film
Following his promising debut in the 1960s with the documentaries Moravian Hellas (1963) and Elective Affinities (1968), director Karel Vachek spent the majority of the 1970s and 1980s as a political persona non grata, at times working various blue-collar jobs and at times in emigration, without completing a single film project. He was rehabilitated only following the events of 1989, which permitted him to return to Prague’s Krátký Film studio. The societal events surrounding Vachek’s return to filmmaking in 1990 have much in common with those over twenty years earlier, in 1968, that allowed him to make Elective Affinities. In 1990, Czech and Slovak society was facing its first democratic parliamentary elections since 1945.
Vachek thus began to shoot the provisionally-titled “Elective Affinities II,” expanding upon and developing his existing filmic techniques. With this new film, as was the case with Elective Affinities, Vachek called the temporal boundaries of his work “thoroughly banal”—the film spans the period from the parliamentary elections of May 1990, through Pope Jan Paul II’s visit to Czechoslovakia, the campaigns, and election day, to the moment when the newly-established parliament voted Václav Havel president of the Republic (a clear reference to Elective Affinities). We follow state representatives, politicians, dissidents, artists, philosophers and various activists who moved within public circles in this period of heightened political activity, and we are witnesses to the way in which new social positions begin to be formed.
From the behavior, discourse, and appearance of individual actors, Vachek composes, in the form of a mosaic, a broad and many-layered film-argument about Czechoslovak democracy in the period of its rebirth, all administered with the director’s ini¬mitable point of view. In this unique historical moment, as part of the “pre-election comedy,” everyday citizens “play noblemen,” becoming actors in a universal “carnival” that culminates in a symbolic closing scene depicting crowds marching towards Prague Castle to the accompaniment of a chorus from Bedřich Smetana’s opera Brandenburgers in Bohemia. In the collage-panorama of Prague with the Charles Bridge that closes the film, however, we also see New York’s Statue of Liberty, the Parisian Bastille, and St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow….
New Hyperion works from several fundamental scenes and motifs that, divided into multiple parts, enter and exit according to context and create, through the course of the film, an expansive dialogue. Within this complex braid of numerous lines of thought, sound and image function as relatively independent elements, to the point at which the authentic spoken word is frequently conferred with meaning that exceeds that of the image, thus fulfilling a function that might be termed illustrative or contrapuntal.
The connections between individual episodes and events also operate primarily on the basis of the spoken word and elements of words. With this elevation of the word (through which Vachek creates a unique form of meaning-collage), among other things, Vachek’s films demonstrate their kinship to literature. And indeed, Vachek titled his film after Freidrich Hölderlin’s (1770 – 1843) novel Hyperion or, the Hermit in Greece (1799). New Hyperion or Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood had its premiere on the 6th of April, 1992, shortly before a second set of parliamentary elections that ultimately led to the dissolution OF Czechoslovakia into the independent Czech and Slovak states.
2.05GB | 3h 16mn | 720×544 | mkv
Subtitles:English; French; Polish