Prague in the early 1950's. Bourgeois elements are being re-educated by working in a scrapyard full of the detritus of industrial society. The volunteer workers comprise a professor of literature, a public prosecutor, a dairyman, a saxophonist, a barber, and a young cook. Also working in the yard are a number of female prisoners serving a year for trying to defect... A camera crew arrives with potted plants and other props. An idyllic scene is created; the prisoners star briefly in a pro-North Korean newsreel before going back to work... The volunteers are striking because the scrapyard work quotas have risen without consultation. A union rep arrives to persuade them otherwise... The guard for the female prisoners gets married but the gypsy musicians make a mess at his reception. The cook flirts with one of the pretty prisoners and finally proposes...Written by
Set in the late 1940s, the film concerns the treatment of suspect "bourgeois elements", a professor, a saxophonist, and a milkman, who are put to work in a junkyard for rehabilitation.
Director Jiri Menzel, a member of the Czech New Wave, became internationally famous in 1967, when his first feature film, "Closely Watched Trains", won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Then came "Larks", which was filmed in 1969, but not released until 1990! That is quite a feat.
Although interesting and a tad surreal, I have to wonder if the reception would have been different in 1969. Appropriately celebrated upon release in 1990, would it have had a bigger impact if it was out when the regime was still in charge?
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