Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Marketa Lazarova

It's as spare as one of the Childe ballads- a narrative pared of all connecting links. One moment you're distanced, the next you're up close. The dreams and visions are as real as the killings. You flounder about, trying to make connections. 

I've never undergone past life regression but I think it would feel a lot like this.

We're in the 13th century. Somewhere in Middle Europe. There's a robber baron called the Goat, there's a teenage bishop, there's a beautiful daughter who's been promised to God, there's a witch who seduces her brother, there's a fat old man with a woebegone army who schleps round the snowy waste trying to impose the King's peace.  People keep doing unspeakable things to one another.

Rape, murder, thieving, crucifixion.

On the plus side- courage, honour, loyalty.

There are castles- but they're more like fortified farmhouses. For all the raggle-taggle trappings of chivalry, this is the world of the Hatfields and McCoys.  You can be a baron but still in danger of starving to death in winter- or having the wolves eat you. Which is why you do a bit of bushwhacking on the side.  

The central characters are absent  from the action for long stretches of time- peripheral to their own tragedy. This is not a world in which the individual matters very much.

Until last week I didn't know this film existed. Not many people outside Czechoslovakia did. It was made -over a two year period in the mid 60s- during the  brief, golden age of Czech cinema.  The history of world cinema is going to have to be adjusted to make room for it.
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