A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Marketa Lazarová (Frantisek Vlácil, 1967)

Magda Vásáryová in Marketa Lasarová 
Kozlik: Josef Kemr
Marketa Lazarová: Magda Vásáryová
Mikolás: Frantisek Velecký
Adam: Ivan Palúch
Alexandra: Pavla Polásková
Lazar: Michal Kozuch
Old Count Kristián: Harry Studt
Young Count Kristián: Vlastimil Harapes
Captain "Beer": Zdenek Kryzánek
Bernard: Vladimir Mensik
Sovicka: Zdenek Rehor

Director: Frantisek Vlácil
Screenplay: Frantisek Pavlícek, Frantisek Vlácil
Based on a novel by Vladislav Vancura
Cinematography: Bedrich Batka
Art direction: Oldrich Okác
Film editing: Miroslav Hájek
Music: Zdenek Liska

I am grateful to Tom Gunning's Criterion Collection essay on Marketa Lazarová not only for the many insights into the film, including a concise summary of the story it tells, but also for citing another film scholar's comparison of it to Andrei Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev (1966). My viewing of Frantisek Vlácil's film was very much like my first viewing of Tarkovsky's: It left me with a feeling that I had seen something extraordinary that I didn't quite understand. I've seen Andre Rublev again, and while I can't say I understand it, I recognize it as the extraordinary cinema masterpiece that it is. It's entirely possible that another viewing of Marketa Lazarová might leave me with a similar impression. Both films are immersive experiences, throwing the viewers into an era strange to them and giving them only a few guideposts to help them sort out even such matters as who's doing what to whom and why. Marketa Lazarová has been voted the greatest Czech film by Czech critics and filmmakers, and I have no doubt that it deserves the accolade. But it will take me another viewing simply to get my bearings on it. It's beautifully filmed, and it does some daring things with sound -- the voices were dubbed later, sometimes with actors other than the ones we see on screen. Every film in a language foreign to me is a cultural challenge, though one I welcome, so much kudos to TCM for programming Marketa Lazarová.

No comments: