Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Marketa Lazarova (1967) - Beautiful, but a bit dull and pointless

Viewing context:
LoveFilm - watched it over a couple of nights as it just wasn’t gripping me; gave up in the end. I have limited spare time in an evning and didn’t think that the rest of this film warranted that time.

Directed by Frantisek Vlacil, who - despite having quite the negative reaction to this - I would like to see more of.

What Happened:
Follows a band of native, pagan czechaslovakians as their land is being taken over by the Prussian empire and the Christianity (grand empirical ideology) that goes with it. Along with the conquering Christians and the native pagans there are the native converts, who accept this Christianity and the order it brings. Can't say what happens past the first half as it was so dull and unstructured that I didn't think it was worth the time. Which is a shame as it was breathtaking to look at, but this cannot stretch over two and a half hours.

A confused or conflicted nation. The setting of this medieval period was allegorical for the kind of changes that were sweeping through Eastern Europe post World War 2 and the film seemed to be dealing with that. The tensions that can arise between new ideologies entering the fold, old ideologies that wish to conserve their heritage, those that are of the established culture but willing to change and a final group that don’t want to change but aren’t fussed enough to do anything about it.

What it did particularly well:
Looked absolutely beautiful; the photography was sublime. Had I not seen Control this week then it would have been the prettiest film of the year. There was one particularly beautiful sequence near the beginning, a sort of dream sequence; if the whole film would have been more of that, then I would have liked it more.

What unimpressed or didn't quite reach potential:
I think the thing that let it down the most was the acting. Half the actors seemed like they were in a school play and destroyed any sort of atmosphere created through the visuals. the sublime cinematography cannot carry a two and a half hour film that has almost no structure yet is also not quite abstract enough to warrant being so incoherent.

Performance of the film:
NA nobody particularly impressed

Scene of the film:
The dreamy sequence with the nuns and the doves = sublime.

Final Comment:
Really beautiful in bits, but in the bits where it wasn’t so beautiful, there just wasn’t enough going on.

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