Prague in the early 1950's. Bourgeois elements are being re-educated by working in a scrapyard full of the detritus of industrial society. The volunteer workers comprise a professor of literature, a public prosecutor, a dairyman, a saxophonist, a barber, and a young cook. Also working in the yard are a number of female prisoners serving a year for trying to defect... A camera crew arrives with potted plants and other props. An idyllic scene is created; the prisoners star briefly in a pro-North Korean newsreel before going back to work... The volunteers are striking because the scrapyard work quotas have risen without consultation. A union rep arrives to persuade them otherwise... The guard for the female prisoners gets married but the gypsy musicians make a mess at his reception. The cook flirts with one of the pretty prisoners and finally proposes... Written by
menzel's "larks on a string" is even better than his "closely watched trains." supressed for decades in its home country this sharp, bitter and exuberant little comedy showcases its director's unique ability to mix humour and tragedy to great effect. a lyrical love story set in a scrapyard full of political dissidents who are occasionally carted off by secret police (never to return) if they talk out of turn. in the end it's an ode to the czech people, depicting them as refusing to be broken, full of a lust for life that cannot be contained even in the darkest times. some truly funny, great moments make for a deceptively simple, beautiful little movie.
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