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Since the arrival of the new teacher, Maria Drazdechova, to a Bratislava suburban school in the year of 1983, life has turned upside down for students and parents. The teacher's corrupted behavior and one of the students' suicide attempt that could be related to that matter, makes the school Principal call the students' parents for an urgent meeting that will suddenly put the future of all the families at stake. They are asked to sign a petition to move Miss Drazdechova out of the school. The teacher's high connections within the Communist Party makes everyone feel threatened, but at this point they have no choice but to make a decision: will they dare to go against Miss Drazdechova and stand up for what they believe in at any risk, or will they just remain silent and let things be?Written by
A glimpse into how scary life could be in the ex-Soviet Bloc.
"Ucitelka" ("The Teacher") is a film from Slovakia and it's set during the years of Soviet domination--probably the 1980s, though the film never gives an exact date.
The story is set during a special meeting called at a local school. It seems that some parents have complained about the actions of their children's teacher. This teacher is very well connected in the Communist party and, according to some, she's using this power to manipulate parents and children into doing her 'favors'. There's also some indication that if students or parents don't do these favors that the kids' grads will suffer. How true all of this is isn't clear in the beginning and as the meeting progresses, you see flashbacks to give you some indication as to what's been happening.
What's really fascinating isn't the teacher's behavior but that of some of the parents who try to exert pressure on other parents to shut up and drop the matter. Additionally, this movie obviously wouldn't have been made during the occupation and most likely shows some of the fear that permeated the lives of Slovakians during this time.
In some ways, this film reminds me of "12 Angry Men" or "Rashomon" in that you really don't know exactly what happened but instead you need to sit back and take it all in in order to form your opinion. And, like these films, it's an interesting look at human nature--both for good and bad. One lesson you see in the movie is the notion of the herd mentality--don't rock the boat unless you yourself are personally being hurt by someone or something. Sad....but often true. And, it seems from the epilogue that this was, in fact, a true story as well.
I really liked this movie. There is a depth to it that very unusual and it really showed the awfulness of human nature...whether in an ex-Soviet nation or anywhere else. Well worth seeing and unique in many ways.
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