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.
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Mikolás and his brother Adam rob travelers for their tyrannical father Kozlík. During one of their "jobs" they end up with a young German hostage whose father escapes to return news of the kidnapping and robbery to the King. Kozlik prepares for the wrath of the King, and sends Mikolás to pressure his neighbor Lazar to join him in war. Persuasion fails, and in vengeance Mikolás abducts Lazar's daughter Marketa, just as she was about to join a convent. The King, meantime, dispatches an army and the religious Lazar will be called upon to join hands against Kozlik. Stripped-down, surreal, and relentlessly grimy account of the shift from Paganism to Christianity.Written by
Joyojeet Pal <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film is the best Czech film of all time according to a 1998 poll of filmmakers and critics from the Czech Republic and Slovakia. See more »
In a scene where Marketa observes a reindeer in the forest, you can see a director Frantisek Vlacil in jacket in the left of the frame. He was actually trying to scare deer, because they didn't want to move. This could be seen only on some of the Blu-Ray and DVD versions. See more »
The UK DVD is cut by 3 secs to remove a shot of a snake being stabbed. See more »
What works for this film has critics and viewers losing track of what doesn't. I agree with all the praise heaped on for the cinematography. As a work of visual art, this film certainly deserves its place in the list of the greatest. For that alone, I stayed with it far beyond the point of giving up on knowing who was who and what was happening to them. But, for an almost three hour movie, I need something to grasp other than great visual stimulation because that can't sustain my interest for three hours alone without some sort of tangible idea or story. There is a story here, somewhere, but unfortunately, since so many of the characters look alike, and the editing makes it impossible to tell whether you're seeing flashbacks or just moving to new scenes, and the dialog offers no help in delineating the plot, I could only tell that some medieval people were trying to kill each other--something about a robbery, but then the robber seems to have caught another robber robbing the same people and took him hostage, other people got away and were taken hostage, who I couldn't figure out, someone's daughter is a nun, maybe, or a pagan witch, or some convoluted excuse to show her naked--in other words, the story is an absolute mess. Others have praised what they call a "non-linear plot." I don't mind a non-linear plot at all, but for this film, the phrase is no better than an excuse for bad story-telling.
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