It's the year 2484 and the Earth is threatened by a rogue comet which could fatally change its orbit. The solution is surprising - Adam Bernau, the greatest genius of 20th century developed... See full summary »
It's the year 2484 and the Earth is threatened by a rogue comet which could fatally change its orbit. The solution is surprising - Adam Bernau, the greatest genius of 20th century developed 500 years ago an ingenious formula for easy transporting of continents and even worlds. Unfortunately, he made this discovery at the age of 11 and the exercise book containing it was destroyed in the fire. But this is not a challenge to Academic Filip who decides to send an expedition back in time to retrieve the precious exercise book from the fire. But everything is not so simple as it seems... Written by
The Best TV Series of All Time Anywhere? Led by Josef Bláha as King of Ridiculous Enunciation
This TV series (15 installments of 30 minutes each) is an astounding triumph of film-making, made in the midst of the dark Communist era in Czechoslovakia. Perhaps it's because political reality back then was so bleak, that Czech film-makers made so many outstanding fantasy and sci-fi movies in those years.
_The Visitors_ bring a new twist: their charm lies in *combining* the present-day reality with imagined life on Earth 500 years later -- in 2484. It's a time-travel story about 4 people from 2484 visiting the typical Czechoslovak small-town of Kamenice in 1984.
For those of us who remember those years and who watch (and endlessly rewatch, because it's *that* enjoyable) the series today, _The Visitors_ possess a double-charm -- something the original audience couldn't have appreciated. You get to see the life of a typical 1980s Czech/Slovak small-town; you see how people used to live, think, and talk. As in all pseudo-Communist, ex-Soviet block societies, *theft* mentality was rampant everywhere, and is even captured in a purely entertainment series like _The Visitors_. There's a wonderful aura of *nostalgia* pervading the series: you see the grocery stores of those days, with old-fashioned cash registers (no electronics yet); you see people waiting in lines to cash in on empty beer bottles; you see people eating and drinking products popular back then.
There is something about many Czech TV series ostensibly "made for kids" that very much distinguishes them from, say, American made-for-kids series -- it's how purposefully smart they are: in a way that, in fact, makes them as enjoyable for *adults* as for kids. There's no shying away here from displaying scenes and themes that would likely have been dismissed as unthinkable by American movie/TV producers, ostensibly creating their works in a "free" society. So here's the monumental irony: it's as if the creators of _The Visitors_ were given more freedom to show whatever (unrelated to politics) they wished to show, than the "freedom" they would likely have been given by an American studio.
There's a pervasive, underlying theme of eroticism throughout _The Visitors_ -- and in relation to various age groups, too. A couple of very young kids in leading roles are "in love"; some of what they say to each other would be unthinkable in an American series, I'm afraid. And there's the main "vamp" of _The Visitors_: Dagmar Patrasová; she's downright *meant* to be the erotic attraction of _The Visitors_, and she definitely is (though not, personally, quite my style). She engages in multiple, passionate French kisses with her suitor. Czech/Slovak parents in 1984 would simply shrug that off as "a bit of adult stuff in a kids series -- why not?"
_The Visitors_ are exquisite on every level; it's as if everyone who was anything in Czech movie-making in the early 1980s, contributed in some way to _The Visitors_. Let's start with the array of legendary Czech actors, all at their best here. Possibly the chief attraction is the supremely ridiculous Josef Bláha as the boss of the expedition from the future; Bláha is so consistently funny throughout the 7.5 hours of _The Visitors_' runtime, that he made me want to roll on the floor laughing at him at least a few dozen times. It's not so much *what* Bláha says or does that's funny (although it's comical enough) -- but it's especially his masterful delivery of the pompous/silly lines that makes you want to scream with laughter. His funny manner of enunciation can probably only be fully appreciated by a Czech or Slovak viewer, because this is *not* the standard way of speaking Czech.
A similar master of funny enunciation is Even Jegorov, playing Adam's father. A fabulous, multi-layered (simultaneously comical/serious/poignant) performance is given by Vlastimil Brodský as "The Great Teacher". For all the awe about what the future will bring, Brodský's character unforgettably shows that it all comes down to hands-on skills and common sense eventually. Vladimír Meník is admirable as the local police chief, and Dagmar Vekrnová (later wife of Václav Havel) as Adam's mother. An actor whose delivery is as funny as Bláha's is the legendary stand-up comedian Jiří Císler in a supporting role as the hotel manager -- whenever he says something in _The Visitors_, it's all you can do to avoid exploding with laughter. And there's a classic 5-minute cameo by the famously corpulent Helena Růičková.
The direction by the grandmaster of Czech fantasy Jindřich Polák is flawless, and the screenplay by his long-time partner Ota Hofman is astonishing in how smart and super-funny it is; jokes abound in every installment, and you have hardly time enough to finish laughing, before another joke comes at you. _The Visitors_, although ostensibly a work of fantasy, are, in fact, perhaps an even better comedy -- one of the finest Czech comedies ever made. The soundtrack was composed by the giant of Czech electronic music, Karel Svoboda; the theme melodies (both opening and closing credits) are extremely memorable. The king of Czech animation, Jan vankmajer, contributed many examples of his craft for _The Vistors_ -- such as the preparation of "amarouny", the only food people in 2484 ever eat. The inventive costuming is the work of Theodor Pitěk, Oscar winner with Milo Forman's _Amadeus_.
_The Visitors_ are exciting, wise, funny, tender and poetic -- all at the same time. The final, nostalgic scene with the duo of ultra-young "Romeo and Juliet" disappearing in a woodland scenery, encapsulates it all. _The Visitors_ are for the kids, and they're for adults -- or are you saying you wouldn't enjoy "humidating" ("humidovat")? "Humidation" is a favorite activity of people in 2484; but the film-makers purposely decline to specify what that activity actually is. Yes: a fantasy/comic TV series from Communist Czechoslovakia of 1983 dared to be *that* smart.
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