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"Vlcí jáma," better known as "The Wolf Trap," was Czech director Jirí Weiss' first major film, and established him as one of the major figures of Czechoslovakia's emerging film industry in the post-war era. It may not be the most interesting of films, but it does contain several interesting elements which made it well worth watching.
Set in the 1920's, the film is a psychological drama involving an orphan who comes to live with the mayor of a small Czech town and his affectionate but overbearing wife. The mayor soon falls for the sweet young woman he has taken into his home, but can't risk his the public humiliation of acting on his feelings. Due to his job he is away from home for long periods of time, leaving the girl to deal with the stubborn wife's drama and hysterics caused by being left alone.
Plot-wise, "The Wolf Trap" is a rather mechanical and dull film, but Weiss brings a technical flair to the material that keeps things interesting. Several unconventional overhead camera angles are used that really have a bizarre effect when seen on a large screen. There is also an editing technique used that is currently all the rage in today's cinema- cutting away from a scene just before it feels like it has ended, which causes a temporary disorienting effect, and keeps the viewer on his/her toes. There's also some rather surreal moments of two leering maids thrown in for good measure.
The acting is a mixed bag, and is hampered by the ho-hum story. Jana Brejchova, who plays the girl, is a beautiful Eastern European blonde, but she never feels natural in front of the camera. Jirina Sejbalova (the wife), on the other hand, has the most animated part, and has some effective moments of humor and emotional devastation.
"The Wolf Trap" won Weiss the FIPRESCI award at the Venice Film Festival, and the film itself was nominee for the Golden Bear.
Overall, a mildly interesting film that hints at great things to come.
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