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Pearls of the Deep

(Perličky na dně)
Czechoslovakia 1966. Directors: Jan Němec, Věra Chytilová, Jaromil Jireš, Jiří Menzel, Evald Schorm
Cast: Pavla Marsálková, Ferdinand Krůta, Miloš Cirnácty, Alois Vachek, František Havel

“A manifesto of the Czechoslovak New Wave, this anthology of five short films by five rising directors — Jan Němec, Věra Chytilová, Jaromil Jireš, Jiří Menzel, and Evald Schorm— is based on a book by the celebrated writer Bohumil Hrabal. Absurdist in style, with a heightened attention to the individual, Hrabal’s work broke with the socialist realism that dominated the era. Němec’s story ‘The Impostors’ is the simplest stylistically, chronicling two elderly men who share stories of their illustrious life careers while spending time together in a hospital. Ultimately they reveal themselves to be masters of the art of embellishment” (IK). Menzel’s adaptation, the next year, of Hrabal’s novel Closely Watched Trains would win the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. “Based on semi-surrealist tales by national literary lion Hrabal ... all five films are compelling time capsules of defiance and love ... Generally anarchist and scaldingly farcical, the films look totalitarian life square in the eye, but they're also living testaments to the era's lovable, grungy Euro-slacker esprit” (Michael Atkinson, Village Voice). B&W and colour, 35mm, in Czech with English subtitles. 107 mins.

REVIEWS

"A one-of-a-kind creative flowering that remains among film history’s most remarkable chapters."

Criterion | full review