Spoilers Alert! Somewhat reminiscent of Fassbinder, in particular QUERELLE, with characters appearing as the Angels of Death, this film could be titled HANSEL AND HANSEL. The story comes from the novel by Josef Capek, and is one of Vlacil's wordiest, more philosophical films, as two young men are caught in the woods by the gameskeeper killing a deer So they kill him as well, still another senseless act, and spend the rest of the film running away, hiding in the woods, plagued by their crimes. The two talk incessantly, pledge to never leave one another, and enter into a homosexual bond which is never actually realized, as they rarely even touch, but they can't exist without one another. As they get deeper in the woods, memories, fantasies, and hallucinations appear more prevalent. One, the shooter, the more dominant of the two, walks naked to the waist through the funeral procession of the gameskeeper they just shot, while the other looks on horrified. Another beautiful recollection is a sepia-tinged image of the two sitting on a front step, back to back, while one plays the accordian and they sing a wonderful duet, until they stop, and one of them, the shooter, pulverizes the other repeatedly. As they get deeper into the woods, they hear their names called out by the dead, in this case the gameskeeper reappears like the witch in HANSEL AND GRETEL, and laughs at their futility. Or they find a beautiful outdoor beer garden where the townsfolk are drinking and dancing, all whispering about the murderers in their midst, while a local drunk has a fabulous scene commenting on their status as wealthy farmers, as they are buying enough alcohol to feed a regiment. One take on this film is the hatred of the workers, particularly in the Communist State, that they always feel justified to hate the outside world, which they imagine as living in bliss. Always, they seem to wake in a beautiful green meadow where the world appears in perfect harmony, except for these two, perfectly realized in a scene where one observes, `At least the world will have all this beauty,' while the dominant partner tries to rip up the field, tearing it apart, while the sound of bees buzzing seems driving his actions. My favorite scene was when they sit on a hill above a rural landscape that is harvesting their fields, again a scene of community harmony, a world where they are not allowed. But the townsfolk close in on them, real or imagined, it's never really explained, again their names are called out by the dead, like the voice of DON GIOVANNI, calling them into hell. First one, then the other is shot, they lie cuddled next to one another, while the dead gameskeeper gleefully comments: `They can't escape their punishment.' The camera moves to the entrance of a dark cave, which enlarges into total darkness.
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