Jaromil Jires

Jaromil Jires – Mladý muz a bílá velryba AKA The Young Man and Moby Dick (1979)

Viktor is a prime example of passivity, he “lives as if he had everything already behind him”. Břéťa is a “charged solar battery, that keeps on charging energy”. Between these two men there enters a woman, Edita, who is uncompromisingly career oriented. Read More »

Vera Chytilová, Jaromil Jires, Jiri Menzel, Jan Nemec & Evald Schorm – Perlicky na dne aka Pearls Of The Deep (1966)

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One of the defining works of the Czech New Wave was the portmanteau film Pearls from the Deep (Perlicky na dne, 1965). Not only did it bring five key directors of the Wave (Chytilova, Jires, Menzel, Nemec and Schorm) together in one film, making it the Wave’s official “coming out” as a group, but it tied them to a writer, Bohumil Hrabal, whose ability to capture the rhythms and refrains of everyday spoken Czech was highly influential on the Wave’s direction Read More »

Jaromil Jires – Zert AKA The Joke (1969)

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Possibly the most shattering indictment of totalitarianism to come out of a Communist country, this film was completed just after the Soviet tanks rolled into the streets of Prague in 1968. It is an astonishingly honest and disturbing film not only for its devastating attack on Stalinism, but also for its uncompromising view of the hypocrisy of political turncoats and the opportunistic new middle classes. Chronicling one man’s journey from youthful frivolity through political imprisonment to final awareness, it is a chilling examination of a corrupt society blighted by fear as much as by the cynicism that pays lip-service to ‘humanitarian’ ideals. Read More »

Jaromil Jires – Valerie a týden divu AKA Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)

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A girl on the verge of womanhood finds herself in a sensual fantasyland of vampires, witchcraft, and other threats in this eerie and mystical movie daydream. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders serves up an endlessly looping, nonlinear fairy tale, set in a quasi-medieval landscape. Ravishingly shot, enchantingly scored, and spilling over with surreal fancies, this enticing phantasmagoria from director Jaromil Jireš is among the most beautiful oddities of the Czechoslovak New Wave. (Criterion) Read More »

Jaromil Jires – Krik AKA The Cry (1963)

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Czechoslovak cinema was reinforced in 1963 by the emergence of Jaromil Jireš. He made his directing debut with a simple narrative based on a book by Ludvík Aškenazy (who also wrote the screenplay). Similarly to contemporaries at Prague’s FAMU film academy, this talented young filmmaker was influenced by the documentary approach to making feature films. The protagonists in Křik (The Cry), husband and wife Slávek and Ivana, experience a rather important day in their lives during which they are separated from each other. Ivana lies in the delivery room giving birth to their first child, while Slávek is repairing televisions at work. The spouses dwell on themselves and the life they have up until now experienced with each other. Jireš and cameraman Jaroslav Kučera use a hidden camera perspective, something that was quite unusual at the time. The director also uses non-actors to add authenticity to the narrative. Slávek is, however, played by the experienced Josef Abrhám. Read More »