Ondrej, a young boy who loves bees and bats, is introduced to his new mother, a woman much younger than his father. He brings her a basketful of flowers which she starts to throw in the air... See full summary »
A poetic film about a dove getting lost on its way to Prague getting shot down by a paralyzed boy. An artist who finds the dove becomes friends with the boy. Together they take care of it bringing it back to recovery.
In the aftermath of World War II, a former Czech soldier takes charge of a manor formerly owned by a German family. He falls in love with the daughter, who is now a maid, and is forced to ... See full summary »
A grim portrayal of the shift from Paganism to Christianity in medieval Czechoslovakia - as a young virgin promised to God is kidnapped and raped by a marauder who her religious father seeks to kill in return.
Diamonds in the night is the tense, brutal story of two Jewish boys who escape from a train transporting them from one concentration camp to another. Ultimately, they are hunted down by a ... See full summary »
At the airport terminal lobby a husband and wife are parting calmly but seemingly for good. Unlike his wife Ema, the medical doctor Meluzin (Rudolf Hrusínský) is returning to his home ... See full summary »
Straight shooting Lemonade Joe cleans up Stetson City, in this musical parody of early Westerns, after shooting the pants off villain Old Pistol. Joe's endorsement of Kolaloka (Crazy Cola) ... See full summary »
After a murder of a gamekeeper who catches them red-handed having just downed a deer, two teenage boys, conceited Ruda (Marek Probosz) and shy Václav (Zbigniew Suszynski) go on the run through the woods.
One of the most important images of the Czech New Wave 60s, which was ranked among the top ten domestic films of all time. Feature debut screenwriter and director Ivan Passer is currently ... See full summary »
Impressive allegory on the magisteria of science and religion
This is the first instalment of three historical pictures, the other two of which are far more famous: Valley of the Bees and Marketa Lazarová, both of which have DVD editions on both sides of the Atlantic. One might expect given the lack of take up that it was a halting first step, but this is not the case. It's perhaps even a lot more coherent and intellectually substantial than those other two movies.
The initial events of the movie are set in Czechoslovakia (then Bohemia and part of the Holy Roman Empire) during the period of the Swedish intervention in the Thirty Years' War, from 1630-1635. During this period armies attempted to live off the land, which explains the raiding that happens in the film, and had the same effect as locusts. This was a time of widespread desolation and disruption in Europe where there was plague and famine in addition to the warfare. The money spent on the wars by the continental European powers drained coffers substantially, which may also account for the rundown state of the Regent's castle in the movie and his lack of ornamentation.
The main characters of the story are the Regent, a straightforward dullard who cares only about his supremacy over the local serfs and making sure no-one rocks the boat, and is a little annoyed at the concept of freemen; the Miller, a taciturn yet extremely intelligent freeman who is suspected of being in league with the devil; the miller's son; and the new priest.
The film is an allegory regarding science, religion and secular power (represented by the Miller, the Priest, and the Regent) that doesn't quite end as expected. I think the message is neither to pursue science to its ultimate conclusion (the atom bomb), nor power to its ultimate conculsion (corruption), nor God (the Tower of Babel). There's also enough mystery and suspense so that you shouldn't get bored, and a lot of experimental camera work.
I think it's a really well made production with effective plotting including a neat variation on Chekhov's Gun and rope-a-dope tactics, brilliant eerie atmospherics, great camera work, and a particularly spellbinding performance from Frantisek Kovárík as the Priest.
It's a film that you could quite reasonably watch over and again. Whilst I love all three of the Vlácil history films, I think they suit different moods. The Devil's Trap is beautifully rational, Marketa is a glorious mystic vision, and Valley of the Bees closer to a straight up historical film that is more of a downer than the other two.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this