A poor but great violinist is invited to stay at an aristocrat’s house. It is based on a short story by Lev Nikolaevic Tolstoj. Read More »
Somewhat reminiscent of Fassbinder, in particular QUERELLE, with characters appearing as the Angels of Death, this film could be titled HANSEL AND HANSEL. The story comes from the novel by Josef Capek, and is one of Vlacil’s wordiest, more philosophical films, as two young men are caught in the woods by the gameskeeper killing a deer So they kill him as well, still another senseless act, and spend the rest of the film running away, hiding in the woods, plagued by their crimes. The two talk incessantly, pledge to never leave one another, and enter into a homosexual bond which is never actually realized, as they rarely even touch, but they can’t exist without one another. As they get deeper in the woods, memories, fantasies, and hallucinations appear more prevalent. Read More »
Jason Sanders, Pacific Film Archive
Frantisek Vlacil’s Shadows of a Hot Summer shared the Grand Prize at Karlovy Vary in 1978, and drew comparisons to Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs for its tense tale of a gentle man pushed to violence in defence of family and home. Mixing potboiler plot with Vlačil’s trademark poetry, the film is set in the summer of 1947, when remnants of enemy forces still roamed the Czech countryside. A Moravian farmer and his family are taken hostage by a group composed of different soldiers, who fought on the German side during the war. Czechoslovakia is on the verge of accepting Communism; the fighters are desperate to get to the Austrian frontier. The farmer initially yields to his captors’ demands, but as the ordeal stretches from days into weeks, he realizes that he will have to take matters into his own hands. Some interpreted the film as a subversive parable of the Warsaw Pact’s 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia. “One of the key films of Czechoslovakia’s otherwise sterile post-Prague Spring era … Fitting a nuanced psychology more attuned to Kieslowski into a narrative more worthy of Stallone, Shadows is one of the rediscoveries of the year”. Read More »
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. Read More »
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). Read More »
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. Read More »
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) Read More »