A nurse is part of the resistance in 1940s Czechoslovakia. She is discovered and must find a place to hide. A patient whose life she saved, from a remote mountain village where time stopped 150 years ago, agrees to hide her as his wife.
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Eight friends help each other repeatedly move house. One year of moving, from apartment to apartment, from shared flat to shared flat. These changes of the apartment are also a changes of relations -some break, others grow.
A nurse and her surgeon-lover are part of a resistance movement in 1940s Czechoslovakia. When they are discovered, her lover flees and she must find a place to hide. A patient whose life she saved, a man from a remote mountain village where time stopped 150 years ago, agrees to hide her as his wife.Written by
As long as there are wars and womenfolk to revere, the feisty spirit of Scarlett O'Hara will never die. The story of a privileged beauty who is transformed by war and sacrifice into a paragon of resilience keeps popping up in film: Catherine Deneuve in Indochine (1992), Sandrine Bonnaire in East-West (1999), Nicole Kidman in last year's Cold Mountain.
Zelary is the Czech version, an old-fashioned character-driven domestic epic which was adapted from an novel by Kveta Legatova. Set in the Second World War against the background of the German occupation, the film was selected as the Czech Republic's Oscar nomination last year. A return to directing for Ondrej Trojan (Let's All Sing Around) after more than a decade as a producer, Zelary is a trite but sturdy offering, a showcase for popular young Czech actress Anna Geislerova, as well as the beautiful Moravian countryside, shot in glowing earthy tones.
Geislerova plays Eliska, a medical student who has been denied a chance to finish her degree because of the German occupation. She works as a nurse, but is also involved in the resistance movement with her lover, a surgeon named Richard (Ivan Trojan). One night a sawmill worker, Joseph (Hungarian actor Gyorgy Cserhalmi), from a rural community is brought into the hospital badly injured. Eliska provides the blood he needs for a transfusion. Shortly after, the Gestapo uncovers the resistance group that Eliska belongs to and she is forced to escape. Joseph, or Jova for short, agrees to take her back to his rural village of Zelary.
Initially the conditions, a dirt floor and no running water, shock her but she has no choice but to stay. She takes on an assumed identity, as Hana, and goes through a marriage ceremony to avoid suspicion from the local villagers.
Hana becomes acclimatized to her new housewifely life surprisingly quickly as she discovers, as women so often do in romance novels, that a hulking, taciturn man can meet nearly all her needs. Jova proves himself both a font of compassion and pillar of strength, providing Hana with a wooden floor and defending her from a rapist before they eventually become lovers.
While Hana bonds with her woodcutter, the script provides some welcome additional village texture. There's that Czech cinema staple, the precocious child (Anna Vertelarova) and her pragmatic widowed mother, as well as a bureaucratic school principal and his friend, a compassionate priest. There's also an ancient midwife (Jaroslava Adamova) who teaches Hana folk medicine. The most trenchant subplot concerns the local drunk who beats his wife and son: Their imprisonment serves as a contrast to the caring imprisonment that Hana faces.
The German army, lurking in the nearby hills, pops up periodically to add a jolt of suspense. Unfortunately, Zelary doesn't end with the war.
Soon the ruthless Germans are replaced by the loutish, drunken, raping soldiers of the Soviet army and Zelary is in for a whole new round of problems. By this point -- well past the two-hour mark -- the endlessly episodic nature of Eliska/Hana's trials begins to provoke fatigue more than sympathy. "Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart," wrote the poet William Butler Yeats. And too much history can make any long-suffering heroine overstay her welcome. Benjamin Miller, Filmbay Editor.
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