In a Carpathian village, Ivan falls in love with Marichka, the daughter of his father's killer. When tragedy befalls her, his grief lasts months; finally he rejoins the colorful life around... See full summary »
In 1919, Hungarian Communists aid the Bolsheviks' defeat of Czarists, the Whites. Near the Volga, a monastery and a field hospital are held by one side then the other. Captives are executed... See full summary »
This story takes place in a small town on the Hungarian Plain. In a provincial town, which is surrounded with nothing else but frost. It is bitterly cold weather - without snow. Even in ... See full summary »
In eighth century China, the Emperor is grieving over the death of his wife. The Yang family wants to provide the Emperor with a consort so that they may consolidate their influence over ... See full summary »
This is the first film of Theo Angelopoulos' trilogy. The story starts in 1919 with some greek refugees from Odessa arriving somewhere near Thessaloniki. Among these people are two small ... See full summary »
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. Written by
Joyojeet Pal <email@example.com>
Some of the most rewarding film experiences I know of annotate the medium itself, oftentimes than not so elliptically it's almost impossible to see at first. I don't mean Fellini's "8 ½" (1963) or "F for Fake" (1974) and their ilk; these are explicitly self-referential films, not that there's anything wrong in that. The films I am referring to aren't really self-referentially about film on narrative level, rather about something else entirely; they become film allegories by extension, as if in the periphery, accidentally.
"Marketa Lazarová" (1967), so audaciously otherworldly, is a film like that. I've seen it twice now, and slowly it's starting to reveal its riches. The first time around my expectations misled me to approach it as something closer to Tarkovsky's "Andrei Rublev" (1966), and while there are similarities, the film is so radical it's not that fitting a comparison in my mind.
The backdrop for the film is a profound historical and cultural paradigm shift where Christianity and paganism battle it out. Two opposites, the film can be seen as a poetic exploration of this struggle, and thus as a social document. While interesting, something else speaks to me more. For me the two allegorical forces at play are those of image and sound, and their use in film world, in filmic language. They often go their own ways, images showing us something and the narration swerving to somewhere else altogether, and the complex array of characters and their unorthodox introduction and presentation in the film underline the effect of confusion very powerfully. The overdubbed, echoing dialogue, often out of sync with the image, distracted me on first viewing, but it's unmistakably fitting in the grand scheme of things. Some images are so powerful I can't get them out of my mind (not that I'd want to, mind you!)
And the music! It's the highest compliment I can think of when I say for a film so visually rich that you should not only see it but listen to it. Liska's contribution to the film in some ways contributes to the modest thesis I've been trying to form in so short a space, that is the wonderful interplay of sound and image. Kieslowski's "Trois couleurs: Bleu" (1993) might compare if I wanted to search for something as equally stunning as this.
And I can't write about the film without mentioning the most wonderful sound I've come across in film. It's the convent bell, and one can hear it towards the very beginning, during the revelation and just before the intertitles, I think, and I think it's repeated at least once later on.
All in all, what an experience. We're lucky to have two Blu-rays of the film, the first a Czech Region B, the second a Criterion Region A release. The first one does have English subtitles.
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