Marketa Lazarová (1967) Poster

User Reviews

Add a Review
23 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
hard-to-find but brilliant
njust7 July 2001
I've only seen this movie once, in a restored print at a film festival a few years back; it's apparently not available on video in the US, which is a real shame. It's a medieval epic, basically about the clash between the old pagan world and the emerging Christian one, but there's a lot more to it than that. Visually, it's nearly as stunning as *Andrei Rublev* (and a good bit faster-paced); some of the images - wolves roaming the barren forests, horsemen in snowstorms - will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. I'll admit that I'm a sucker for gloomy, wintry European art movies, especially if they work some bloody sword-fights in, too, but this is one of the overlooked Great Movies ...
38 out of 40 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Real Good
honza_je_borec10 December 2003
I appreciate overseas even to notice this film, although I keep my doubt about the translation, for even the simplified movie dialogues are high-art and historizing. The film is based on Vladislav Vancura's brilliant novel (of the same name) its language level makes it untranslatable. It apparently caused my colleagues-in-comment some misunderstandings, for sure Czech King was no German in that time(even the christianity didn't come in our land germanways), only the noble man and his kidnapped son were.

This film is especially remarkable due to successful conversion of a great book into the great film (I don't recall many other examples at this level) and due to its capture of medieval. I hate medieval films with clean, stylish and crafty interiors, clothes etc. and bright light, for medieval was DARK, HARSH and DIRTY. What's the best part, Kozlik and Lazar were not just family-chieftains or family-heads, they were NOBLE MEN (feudals) and no matter whether they looked (and acted) like prowlers or not. Neither manners nor dresses were the significance of nobles in early medieval, the sword was (which no commoner was allowed to posses), better say swords and estates were.

This film is basically about weakness and strength in men. Lazar is thief and coward, kind of vulture, but Kozlik with his sons represents the willful and harsh power and bravery that summons an admiration of a sort, for they fear only the God, what makes them better christians than the sneaky Lazar jaws-full-of-Jesus.

Marketa, the unspoiled sweet child resembles all the clear, bright and pure in this world (and the only positive aspect of Lazar's sorry life), and is spoiled as everything clean and pure in this world might be. And she's devoted, first to God, then to earthly Mikolas.

I love the metaphore with zealot and little lamb, the connection between Marketa and the God's beast is obvious. Agnus Dei is another clear and bright to be tainted and consumpted by wild Kozlik's House.

And the sound and music, that's the world if its own, there's no music but sudden choir impacts!
36 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
MARKETA LAZAROVA (Frantisek Vlacil, 1967) ***1/2
MARIO GAUCI9 March 2008
UK DVD label Second Run – which specializes in rare Eastern European classics – have, over the last couple of years, released a handful of films I have long yearned to watch (and which, as a result of this viewing of MARKETA LAZAROVA, I've just ordered online): Aleksander Ford's KNIGHTS OF THE TEUTONIC ORDER (1960; a disc which despite its being trimmed by the BBFC and in an altered aspect ratio, I couldn't sensibly forego), Jerzy Kawalerowicz's MOTHER JOAN OF THE ANGELS (1961; their very first release which I purchased in London last year), Jan Nemec's THE PARTY AND THE GUESTS (1966) and, debuting in a few days' time, Miklos Jancso's THE ROUND-UP (1965).

Unlike these movies, I wasn't consciously aware of MARKETA LAZAROVA when the infectious buzz about its impending release hit the Internet but, as I later found out, the film was actually mentioned, ever so fleetingly, in one of my father's old movie magazines. Again, when the DVD was eventually released, there was a negative vibe about the alleged visual deficiencies of Second Run's disc but, in hindsight, these were quite needlessly exaggerated. Ultimately, an awesome – and, as it turned out, essential – movie experience such as this one deserves to be seen right away and to keep waiting for that perfectly pristine print to rear its unlikely head is utterly pointless. Alas, the Czech New Wave is still a largely undiscovered segment of cinema history for me so I am not in a position to suitably assess whether MARKETA LAZAROVA is indeed the greatest Czech movie ever made (as it had been judged in a 1998 poll among 100 native film critics). Suffice it to say that this ostensibly obscure film has by now figured in a number of published all-time best polls and, consequently, its status is deservedly well-established. Hopefully, as it was in my case, Second Run's DVD will serve as the introduction to many an adventurous film enthusiast in the future…

Since my overall experience of MARKETA LAZAROVA was such a positive one, it seems only right to get my quibbles with the film out of the way first and there are basically two of them: a muddled storyline which, for most of the film's first half, left me rather perplexed as to which of the two warring factions the characters whose exploits I was following on screen belonged and, while things got clearer as time went by, the individuals themselves (with the obvious exception of the titular character) did not exactly garner much sympathy. I suppose that for a movie with a running time of almost three hours these flaws would usually be significantly detrimental to one's enjoyment of the whole: however, the definite impression I was left with while watching was that, despite the eponymous title, the director's intent was not to narrate a conventional life history but actually to create a visual tapestry of the medieval era onto celluloid and, in this regard, to say that he succeeded would be the understatement of the year. In fact, along with Andrei Tarkovsky's ANDREI RUBLEV (shot in 1965 but actually unreleased until 1972), I'd venture to say that MARKETA LAZAROVA is the most convincingly realized cinematic portrait of those turbulent times, distinguishing Frantisek Vlacil's vision as an overwhelmingly expansive and stunningly visual one.

In this context, it is quite appropriate that the titular character (played by a future Presidential candidate, the beautiful Magda Vasaryova) is practically silent for most of the film; she is first seen about to enter into a holy order but is eventually abducted, raped and impregnated by the feral Mikolas (who was actually raised by wolves) whom she comes to love eventually. Another parallel and equally unlikely relationship we are witness to is the one which blossoms between the earthy Alexandria (who is also involved in some brief but startling instances of full-frontal nudity) and her young, aristocratic captive who happens to be a German Bishop; it is worth noting here that Alexandria had already almost cost the life of her brother Adam when his own father had severed his arm in punishment for their incestuous coupling! Interestingly, the film is divided into two parts – respectively entitled "Straba" and "The Lamb Of God" – and punctuated by frequent, verbose, half Dickensian-half picaresque chapter headings, not to mention the presence on the soundtrack of a bemused narrator who, at one point, even takes on the role of God while interacting with a monk! This is not the only instance of whimsical inventiveness present in MARKETA LAZAROVA – perhaps adopted by the director to counter the oppressively bleak ambiance created by the forbidding snowy landscape and dense forest settings which can actually claim to be the film's true main characters. As I said previously, striking images abound throughout: the intermittent, sinister appearance of the pack of wolves is impressively eerie, the distraught monk looking for his lamb and eventually losing her decapitated head down a clifftop, a horse drowning in a puddle on a deserted no man's land, the camera occasionally taking on a feverishly first person viewpoint according to the character at hand, the effective use of unheralded off-kilter compositions (including a totally bizarre arrow-in-the-eye shot!), etc. Having said that, Zdenek Liska's choral, percussive and electronic score is equally imaginative and, as a result, extraordinarily complementary to the uniquely sombre spectacle on constant display.
19 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
humanity becomes unhinged
cranesareflying24 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
A sweeping, widescreen black and white 13th century historical epic, voted the best Czech film ever by a survey of Czech film critics in 1998 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Czech cinema, some truly spectacular imagery by Bedrick Batka, endless snowy landscapes with wolves running in the snow, original Medieval sounding chorus music written by Zdenek Liska which throbs throughout, like an unseen heart. With a FEW SPOILERS, this is truly a heartless story of two rival families, both are nearly indistinguishable, one is described as having more sons than sows, both appear equally cruel and tormenting, abducting one of the King's family, the kidnapped victim then falls in love with one of the earthy daughters, then one of the families kidnaps Marketa, an unbelievable performance by Magda Vasaryova, who plays the innocent, virginal daughter who has been promised by her father to the convent, a complete contrast to everything else seen on screen, which appears vile and dirty, rotten to the core, except Marketa. But she becomes the lover of the kidnapper, more like his slave, knowing no other protector, all have abandoned her, as her family was nearly wiped out in her capture, her father crucified to the entrance fence of her family's fortress. Evil is everywhere. But the King's Sheriff, representing the rule of German Christians, decides to hunt down the evil-doers, the hunters become the hunted, which results in a ferocious, mass slaughter, humanity becomes unhinged. Hell raises it's weary head. In an extraordinary transformation, the earthy daughter plunges a rock to her lover's head after his King wipes out her family, so much for love, and Marketa is led to the convent, nuns are arranged like paintings on the walls, a ritual of God's peace and forgiveness is rejected by Marketa. Unbelievably, she returns to be married to her kidnapper in his last, dying breath. She has become transformed into pure evil, with nowhere to wander in the desolate, wintry countryside except with a simpleton with a flair for Biblical verse, who chases off after a goat instead of tending to Marketa, who wanders alone, seemingly forever.
17 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Fabulously magnificent
ireland-612 February 2005
"Marketa Lazarova" was a film I saw in 1970 at a small film theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It left an indelible memory, and I've spent years trying to find a way to see it again. At least once a year, I find a note I left about a phone call I've made to some obscure library or other such place in the hope of finding a way to see it.

The film won an Academy Award, and it should be remembered. It is stunning in black and white; the story is remarkable in its content and direction.

If anyone has ideas about how we fans can possibly revive this movie, we should try to do so. It is worth all the trouble and more just to see it again and again.
20 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Two Opposites
kurosawakira18 July 2013
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.
12 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
adamhrub1 December 2005
First i have to say that my journey to understanding this film was not an easy one. I ve seen it first time at age of 19teen and was quite a confused.. cause I've seen not much story, not much dialogues not much conversation in this film.. i just knew even from school that this movie according to lot of people in czech republic where vlacil and me are from should have won Oscar instead of "ostre sledovane vlaky". I ve returned to this movie few years later.. and was astonished... main power in of this movie doesn't lay in plot or conversations. u have to watch as a story about love made in AMAZING audio visual manner. true masterpiece and piece of art which is going to last forever i think. The scenes have so much of pathos (in a good way) that make u wanna cry.. acting performances are astonishing, especially Josef Kemr... this film is a true emotional experience.. i can only recommend it to you..
18 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Incredible to look at
stuart-2881 April 2008
Just wanted to add a note about the apparent slightly negative comments about the visual quality of the Second Run DVD release - well, how petty can you get! This astonishing film is incredible to look at and is surely one of the most beautiful films ever made though not, it has to be said, in a conventional sense. Although some scenes feature genuinely authentic brutality, there is a strange dream-like quality to the film's look. The story itself demands total concentration throughout but, by the end, you will be fully rewarded for your efforts. A poetic masterpiece. Great work again by Second Run for making such a cinematic rarity available to view.
9 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
You must see this!
duowcewy8 June 2011
Incredible film. They could not make this in Hollywood. Begin with the most realistic film from the Middle Ages - ever. The story is that they shot two films from a group of actors who lived in medieval conditions for this and The Valley of the Bees. Add in incredible acting from the likes of Menshik and Vasryova. Josef Kemr -who I had only seen do comic roles - as Kozlik - incredible. The battles are very realistic - no phony CGI, no special effects that leave you wondering where the humans are... If you like Andrei Rublev, Virgin Spring, Seventh Seal, etc., YOU MUST SEE THIS (and I rarely use all caps). If you are a fan of Menshik (Lemonade Joe, Who wants to kill Jessie) or Vasaryova (Off on the Comet, etc.) YOU MUST SEE THIS.
10 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
For lovers of the later films of Sergei Paradzhanov
psteier12 December 2000
Set in medieval times when paganism was still strong, follows the violent exploits of a small, well off clan.

Unlike most Hollywood 'history', the film does not just put modern people in ancient times, but attempts to reconstruct the society and lifestyle. Very fluid and poetic camera work.

This is not a film for everyone.
20 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Godless earth
chaos-rampant2 May 2011
Man was a beast before the Middle Ages, but now it was one racked with guilt. Violence was the constant and would continue to be the shaper of worlds but, with the advent of this new religion preaching mercy and penitence, it was probably the first time that this violence was experienced within unprecedented, new frameworks. What had been passed through the blood for centuries in the Teutonic woods as the only means of arranging the world in some order, this instinctive violence, was now felt to be abominable.

In this sense, the religious angst of the medieval man comes from trying to conciliate that ancestral world where carving a blood eagle on the back of a fallen chieftain pleased the gods, with the new ideas of perceiving it, where sins had to be atoned for.

Here we get the tumultuous chronicle of this, the writing of the middle part of history.

We get baroque, medieval art, steeped in religious terror and ancestral guilt. Chances are there's a slew of medieval films out there, but probably not one that is as pungent, with a single exception. We encounter this cruel, pitiless hell on earth where life is meaningless and crazed gods roaming it exact terrible, ironic tolls on the human soul, ten years later in Diabel, by the hand of a certified madman this time.

Spiritually I couldn't be farther apart from this godless vision of tortured human beings, essentially Christian. But as an experience to dwell upon and inhabit, the film offers no quarter. It's a better Valhalla Rising, thirty years before.

What new frameworks here though, how best to experience the torture of the medieval man? The director finds the answer in the Czech New Wave.

The intertitle that opens this delineates what follows as a saga, an epic story of murder and intrigue. The masterstroke here lies in how this saga is told, in fragmenting it from a linear notion where time is a succession (which is the artifice of history) and presenting us with those fragments as a vivid experience of a life bled for and anguished. Which is to say, Marketa Lazarova is not the history of what transpired but the memory of it, which is then arranged into a story.

The camera then sees inside this story deeper than any bard did. And what it sees is that these passions and sufferings are not linear, therefore building up to something or anticipated to come to an end that would justify the pain, but an exponential cycle turning indifferently and without pattern.

Yet here is where the film falters. Having broken this up, the film shies away from the opportunity to look directly at what hides behind it, if anything, and insists we read this as a rhapsody where it's not impossible to consider the degenerate as cruel, flawed heroes who defied the king's rule. Bombastic music swells up in crescendos now and then to remind us that all this is horrible, but fundamentally tragic.

This may be a quibble however. It's a harrowing experience watching these men, small and insignificant at the face of violence, struggle with a pain and madness immemorial, that predates their existence. Omens of skaldic doom abound here, black crows in the bony branches of trees. Whatever they signify or not, whether the gods cackle at all this or are indifferently absent, these sights curdle the blood.
7 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Inaccessible masterpiece
donelan-128 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I can only add my voice to the other reviewers, asking why such a masterpiece, voted the best Czech film of all time, is not available on DVD or VHS, especially since two of the director's lesser films did make it to VHS. Another Vlacil film (just as unique in its own way) that is not available is The White Dove. Marketa Lazarova is very realistic in detail (as other reviewers have remarked), but (unlike some recent American and British films set in the Middle Ages) it does not make a fetish of the dirt and squalor. The cruelty is also shown in the context of a harsh world, where revenge and displays of power were necessary to maintain one's position. And it goes with the sardonic humor of the film. The only knight in shining armor, for instance, is an ineffectual status symbol. But the film also portrays a conflict in which both sides have their virtues: the bonds of family affection and loyalty in the outlaw clan, which come out in the father's final scene with his dying son; and the king's effort to maintain some semblance of order that will allow ordinary people to live their lives. By contrast, most American and British medieval epics are fantasies, featuring a struggle between stereotyped good versus evil characters.
8 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Unfortunately I had a particular problem with this film but I can understand why others would give it an 8 out of 10 or above.
Craig Thompson1 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I expected to enjoy this film but I'm afraid I had an overwhelming problem with a central element of the plot. If it wasn't for that I would probably have given this film an eight out of ten because I was fairly impressed with how it was executed.

The thing that spoilt the film for me was the way that the rape of the titular female character was handled. It was not the rape scene itself that bothered me, but the fact that the perpetrator was the lead male character whom we were evidently expected to feel some sympathy for as the film progressed. I also didn't like the fact that the titular female character seemed to promptly fall in love with her rapist for no apparent reason.

It might be that if this element of the plot had been portrayed slightly differently then I wouldn't have had any problem with it but as it stands I found it extremely off-putting. Personally I wouldn't even class this film as controversial, it is just that I think that the aftermath of the rape and the subsequent relationship between the two central characters was depicted in a cack-handed manner.

Although I usually want and expect creators to refrain from transferring present day social mores on to the past, in this particular instance such theoretical considerations didn't obviate my adverse reaction to how the plot proceeded. As I have previously appreciated plenty of controversial content I didn't feel inclined to give this film the benefit of the doubt. It also is fairly obvious that the director has a penchant for gratuitous female nudity. I certainly wouldn't recommend this film to anybody who identified as a feminist.

However there were aspects of this film that I did appreciate and I can fully understand why others would rate it very highly. Chief among these is the verisimilitude of the medieval setting. I enjoyed seeing all the dirt and the mud and all the buildings looked suitably dilapidated. The music helped to create an appropriate atmosphere and the cast and their clothing were similarly well chosen. I also liked the cinematography and the frequent use of unusual and interestingly varied camera positions. Even though I didn't like this film I feel certain that other filmmakers must have been inspired by it and although I'm not aware of any link it reminded me of "A Field in England".
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Beautiful and Incomprehensible
Mort Payne6 June 2016
What works for this film has critics and viewers losing track of what doesn't. I agree with all the praise heaped on for the cinematography. As a work of visual art, this film certainly deserves its place in the list of the greatest. For that alone, I stayed with it far beyond the point of giving up on knowing who was who and what was happening to them. But, for an almost three hour movie, I need something to grasp other than great visual stimulation because that can't sustain my interest for three hours alone without some sort of tangible idea or story. There is a story here, somewhere, but unfortunately, since so many of the characters look alike, and the editing makes it impossible to tell whether you're seeing flashbacks or just moving to new scenes, and the dialog offers no help in delineating the plot, I could only tell that some medieval people were trying to kill each other--something about a robbery, but then the robber seems to have caught another robber robbing the same people and took him hostage, other people got away and were taken hostage, who I couldn't figure out, someone's daughter is a nun, maybe, or a pagan witch, or some convoluted excuse to show her naked--in other words, the story is an absolute mess. Others have praised what they call a "non-linear plot." I don't mind a non-linear plot at all, but for this film, the phrase is no better than an excuse for bad story-telling.
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Near Impossible to follow, but stunning nevertheless...
Tim Kidner7 August 2011
I bought the Second Run DVD, after reading about how this epic was considered the best Czech film, ever.

To be honest, not many other contenders spring to mind. And, who voted? As it was on special offer and I am a sucker indeed for that Russian style of gritty monochrome composition and beauty, how could I resist?

I'm on its second play and I'm no nearer following the story. There is undoubtedly one. Am I too overawed by imagery that I could only dream of? (even if I were able to!) Is it the savagery and feel of a certain reality?

I don't know. I can sense, however, an art film made with passion and unbounded imagination. Of folklore, both in a historical sense and a cultural one and of religious rebellion. Like Kurosawa at his best, an immediacy and connection. Yet, it is also dreamlike and distant, with an air of mysticism that I found increasingly confusing. The length of film means that by halfway through I've no idea what is going on, but am still enjoying what I see.

Unfortunately, I have docked a mark for the forced, electronically induced echo on the dialogue that probably is supposed to denote that other worldly strangeness. It seems to seep in and hang about, its constant use here cheapens the effect to being a bit of a pain. Whereas Kurosawa used that SFX so effectively on, say Roshomon, by using just once or twice.

I could see elements of the Brazilian 'Black God, White Devil' and like others have commented, Kurosawa's 'Seven Samurai' and Tarkov's 'Andrei Rublev'. Maybe some of the black magic in Bergman's late medieval classics, such as 'The Virgin Spring' and 'The Seventh Seal'. But more psychotic, more manic and disturbing than all these put together. Like madness itself, there is a real beauty deeply ingrained amongst the mayhem.

My conclusion would have to be that if you get the chance, go for it. Take it with a large pinch of salt and sprinkle sparingly. None of it is truly horrific or unpalatable to most adults and don't worry if you don't "get it". Be slightly proud and immodest that you've found a tarnished gem that hardly anyone else will have seen or are ever likely to.
5 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Czechs best film?
johno-2116 January 2007
I recently saw this at the 2007 Palm Springs International Film Festival as one of the two Archival Treasure's they were showing among the 254 new films. This film has been in limited release around the world since it's original 1967 release and I understand that this will be available for the first time on DVD this year. I don't believe it was ever available in video form. I also understand that this will be restored for the DVD release but the print I saw was very dark and washed out. It is a black and white film but there was little contrast of black and white and the film was very scratched so it must have been an original faded print. This in itself is going to detract my review of it. This is a hard to find film that many have never seen despite the fact that the Czech film community voted it the best film in Czech film history. The beautiful Magda Vásáryová makes her acting debut in this film in the title role although she has a limited speaking role until toward the end. She would go on to an almost 25 year career in films before retiring in 1991. Famed director Frantisek Vlácil is at the peak of his directorial career with this film he adapted from the very popular novel by Vladislav Vancura. It took two years to film this in mostly winter scenes in the forests of southern Czechoslovakia. It is set in the 13th century and details the medieval era clash of two rival clans, paganism and Christianity, a doomed love affair between Mikolas and Marketa and the poor rural class living under the king. The runtime of the print I saw was 152 minutes. Good music and some great visuals but not that visually rewarding probably due to the quality of the print and far from the epic I thought it would be. Nice to see on the big screen but I would wait for a properly restored cleaned up DVD version. It lasted about an hour too long. This is not for everybody and I couldn't recommend it. I had every expectation of liking it but it grew boring. I would give it a 5.5 out of 10.
13 out of 34 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Great Film
herbertmarrow1 April 2014
Marketa Lazarová is a very good film. It is visually stunning, shot in beautiful high contrast black and white. The films atmosphere - similar to another medieval film "Andrei Rublev" - really makes you feel like you have traveled to the middle ages. This is by no means a feel good movie, and the loss for human compassion is pushed to the extreme. If you are looking for traditional linear storytelling, you will be disappointed with this movie. Marketa Lazarová compromises everything for the atmosphere of the movie: Visual, Sound, Story, Characters and so on. This does not damage the film though; Marketa Lazarová is a much better film because of it. It's one of these film that gives you what it's trying to give you, without forcing it on you or telling you about it. And you only know about it after the film is over.
3 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Ambitious But Murky
atlasmb20 November 2017
Called a "haunting epic" by some, and voted best Czech film of all time, "Marketa Lazarova" is a very lengthy film set in the 13th century. Supposedly, it took many years to make, and one can see much work went into its production.

However, this film has little to recommend it. I will say that the camera work is stellar and the cinematography is sometimes stunning. But those aspects alone are not enough.

To simplify, the story is about a lot people walking through bleak landscapes and giving long allegorical speeches about honor and sin.

The narrative lacks clarity and it often feels like the sound was added after filming. That might be okay if it were not so noticeable. Much of the dialogue feels like it was added even though it was not voiced by an actor. If this effect is just a stylistic approach, it did not feel impressive, but distracting.

Much of the music is provided by choral groups voicing wordless shifting tones. That sometimes fits the story, which centers on the intersection of Christian symbolism and pagan myth, yielding a stew of pseudo-meaningful babble. The evolution of man-made mythologies and its effects on different ways to kill one's neighbors has limited appeal. The dialogue is dotted with curses and prayers, showing the similarities between these superstitious incantations.

Some viewers may find the film wordy. Others may enjoy the verbiage. But in the balance, this is an ambitious film with a murky final cut.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Czech Mess
Art Vandelay20 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
So beautifully photographed I couldn't take my eyes off it. But if I wasn't able to piece together the ''plot'' by reading the other reviews of this film I would have no idea what's going on here. I mean, cut the pretense. It's a bunch of filthy scoundrels murdering other filthy scoundrels for little apparent reason, probably the same as happened in every medieval country. There are no profound truths here, but lots to look at.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Marketa Lazarová
Jackson Booth-Millard13 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I found this Czech film listed in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, it is one of only a few films that have got attention or reviews from critics, so I just watched to make my own mind up about it. Basically set in the Middle Ages, two brothers, Mikolás (Frantisek Velecký) and one-armed Adam (Ivan Palúch) are robbers who steal from travellers for their tyrannical father Kozlík (Josef Kemr). During one of their "jobs", they end up having to hold a young German hostage, the hostage's father escapes and reports the news of her kidnapping and the robbery to the King. Kozlík is prepared for the wrath of the King, he sends Mikolás to pressure his neighbour Lazar (Michal Kozuch) to join him in war, the persuasion fails, and in vengeance Mikolás abducts Lazar's virginal, naive daughter Marketa Lazarová (Magda Vásáryová), just as she was about to join a convent to become a nun. In the meantime, the King dispatches an army, and Lazar who is religious will be called upon to join hands against Kozlík. I will be honest and say that I did not understand absolutely everything going on, but there is a plot about the shift from Paganism to Christianity. Also starring Zdenek Kryzánek as Captain Beer and Pavla Polaskova as Alexandra, with narration by Zdenek Stepánek. Even though I couldn't follow everything because I had to read subtitles, this black-and-white film set in medieval times had some good moments, with themes of religion, kidnapping by robbers and the hostage becoming the mistress of one of the kidnappers being interesting, maybe if critics wrote a review I could make more of a determined judgement, for me it was a reasonable historical drama. Worth watching!
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
the best Czech movie ever
davidos22 September 1998
Marketa Lazarova was elected the best Czech movie on the occasion of celebration of 100 years of Czech/Czechoslovak cinema art.
4 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Sharp, Impressive Film
gavin694230 June 2016
A minor Czech clan falls afoul of the King in medieval times, against the backdrop of Christianity replacing Paganism. "Marketa Lazarová" was voted the all-time best Czech movie in a prestigious 1998 poll of Czech film critics and publicists.

Although I am not a very knowledgeable person on Czech film, I have seen a few and am particularly a fan of what is known as the "New Wave". The Czechs seem to have had a brief period of being more strange and experimental than anyone else in the world, taking Luis Bunuel and blowing him away.

This is not one of those films, but I can see why many regard it as the greatest in Czech history. First of all, it is epic, which always draws in critics. But also, the beautiful cinematography is amazing, and the vocal (perhaps choral?) music is perfect to set the stage. Indeed, the music alone makes this film larger than life.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
It stinks
Karl Ericsson23 March 2013
Even the best camera-work doesn't help a lousy script. It's sad to see so much talent wasted on such garbage.

Maybe the writer and the director of this mess also did not wear any protection for their heads in the midst of winter as much as the players in this film did and with heads full of headache they sat about to do this film. That's how it looks.

I had to rewind my DVD a couple of times because I frequently fell asleep over this stinker. But to no avail - I fell asleep again.

Even when I read the reviews and found out what this film was all about and found that my guesses had been correct - this did not help very much.

The message of this film seems to be that mankind is bad and deserving of all misery bestowed to it. I think that filmmakers like this are bad and UNFORTUNATELY they are not bestowed what they deserve and are instead praised in this stink of a society.
6 out of 39 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews