A bittersweet comedy set just prior to 1984, during the era of 'practical socialism'. For political reasons, Bedrich Mára (Bolek Polívka) has had to give up teaching at Prague's Academy of ...
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A bittersweet comedy set just prior to 1984, during the era of 'practical socialism'. For political reasons, Bedrich Mára (Bolek Polívka) has had to give up teaching at Prague's Academy of Art. He is not allowed to exhibit and has been pushed to the sidelines of interest and lucrative commissions. He and his ceramicist wife (Eva Holubová) and two sons live in a small apartment on the outskirts of Prague. Míla Brecka (Jaroslav Dusek), the school principal, and his family stand in stark contrast to the Máras. Comrade Míla and his ambitious wife (Vilma Cibulková), Bedrich's fellow student from the Academy, have gone with the socialist flow for years. They find justification for their behavior in the usual words: 'Someones got to swim along with them to make things better; someones got to make that sacrifice!'Written by
Czech film center
I bought this on DVD on my last visit to Prague, but didn't look at it until a couple of months later. I picked it up only because I remembered hearing the title, and a Czech friend recommended it. When I finally looked at the film, I realized vaguely that I had seen it before, probably while on an airline flight returning to the US from the Czech Republic some years ago. I remember thinking that I only mildly liked it the first time, so I almost turned it off without watching again. I'm so glad I didn't do that! After a slow start, the humor and the irony started to sink in. By the time the film was halfway through, I was laughing and (almost) crying my head off. This film is SO CZECH, and SO RICH, and it definitely gets better on the second viewing. (I say that even though my first viewing was in less than ideal circumstances, on a small airline screen.) I loved it. Other reviewers may have a point in saying it will play better to people or already understand Czechoslovakia in the 80s. I've talked to some American friends who can't seem to get past their own preconceptions about what eastern block communism must have been like. Still, I would recommend that anyone who enjoys stories with ironic humor and deeply layered ambiguity give this film a try.
I realize, now that I've looked it up on IMDb, that I had almost exactly the same reaction to director Jan Hrebejk's following film "Up and Down." Except that one I liked well enough the first time through... and loved the second time.
I would also recommend his "Divided We Fall" and "Beauty in Trouble." But "Pupendo" was a real surprise. Damn!! Now I'm going to have to find all his work!!
Great movie! Thoughtful, subtle, ironic, rich. Get it!
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