The following post is by our occasional
Frantisek Vlacil for his operatic film of wonder, MARKETA LAZAROVA, does not square with your usual medieval genre piece. It appears to be a story about warring clans, but the plot is subordinate to what may be its real reason for being -- to give its audience a taste of the state of numbed existence that results from anarchy and repression. Voted by Czech critics and film-makers their nation's greatest film some 30 years after its release in 1967, it will be screened at BAM Cinématek in Brooklyn from Feb 28-March 6 and is also available now on DVD and Blu-ray.
Mists of Avalon, Arthurian legends, Tristan and Isolde, Braveheart, Robin Hood are just a few. It is that period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance in which anarchy and brute struggle for survival replaced national identity and citizenship. Roman infrastructure was crumbling away, its systems of governing and taxation long gone, leaving rival clans on their own to battle each other and/or local kings over turf, honor, resources.
Night of the Living Dead. During the 1960's while Vlacil was making his film, the Czechs were under Soviet control. Marketa's story, ostensibly apolitical, may be a device created by a storyteller unable to criticize real-time Soviet domination for its numbing effects.
Vladislav Vancura -- executed by the Nazi's in 1942 for resistance to occupation. A translation of the novel is in progress by Alex Zucker.)
J Hoberman of the NYReview, July 2013). In fact we literally feel catapulted and then submerged into the forest world, aided by then-novel camera work, jerky perspective shifts, and the use of lenses that focus near and far in rapid succession, just as the human eye refocuses constantly. The viewer is as fogged over about violent plottings as we are ignorant of the deals going down on the street corners of our own daily lives; one simply screens out excess stimuli. The immersion in Vlasic's sensually enveloping physical environment replaces what otherwise might be a proper narrative spun out to historical, moral, or emotional purpose. You are simply in the scene and had better keep head down or risk an arrow lodged in the eye.
BAM Cinématek's week-long run of Marketa Lazarova extends from this Friday, February 28 through Thursday, March 6. For screening times, directions to BAM, etc. -- simply click here.