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The Long View: A Celebration of Widescreen

Friday, August 8, 2008
7:30 p.m. Markéta Lazarová
Frantisek Vlácil (Czechoslovakia, 1967)

PFA Collection Print


In 1960s Czechoslovakia, historical themes provided a way in which controversial ideas could be smuggled onto the screen, but they had their own artistic raison d’être as well. Filmed under treacherous conditions in the mountains of southern Bohemia, Markéta Lazarová plays out a parallel between barbarism and “civilized” brutality in the thirteenth century with a dazzling visual sensibility and uncanny realism, both physical and psychological. Its achievement in dynamic, widescreen cinematography at the time was paralleled only by the Japanese and Soviet epic film styles. The story is one of rivalry and revenge between a clan of brutal robbers and the family of a thieving squire; in the midst of the savagery, mysticism, and madness, a love affair develops between the squire’s daughter and the son of the outlaw clan. Vlácil creates a narrative that is more poetic than linear, like a dream of an ancient age.

• Written by Frantisek Pavlicek, Vlácil, based on the novel by Vladislav Vancura. Photographed by Bedrich Batka. With Magda Vasaryova, Frantisek Valecky, Pavla Polaskova, Josef Kemr. (162 mins, In Czech with English subtitles, B&W, ’Scope, 35mm, George Gund Deposit at PFA)