Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Euro 2012: Czech Republic Films

Entry #15 of the Euro 2012 Book & Film Spotlight looks at the two Czech films.

Surviving Life (2010, Jan Svankmajer)

Evžen (Václav Helšus) has met the perfect woman. However, there is one tiny problem, she is only present in his dreams and disappears once he wakes up. Since Evžen’s real life isn’t very exciting, he longs to go to sleep as much as possible in order to meet his dream woman. Surviving Life is packed with the stop-animation technique associated with Jan Svankmajer’s films, such as Lunacy. The animation seamlessly blends reality and fantasy thereby creating a medium where worthy ideas about dreams are presented in a lighthearted manner.

Protektor (2009, Marek Najbrt)

Director Marek Najbrt and co-writers Benjamin Tucek and Robert Geisler smartly depict how a couple’s relationship is altered by the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Before the Nazi invasion, Hana (Jana Plodková) is an upcoming actress who is the talk of the town while her husband Emil (Marek Daniel) quietly watches from the sidelines. A colleague warns Hana that the Nazi invasion would change things because of her Jewish identity and that she should leave the country. Hana dismisses the warnings but his words prove true as Jews are banned from the arts and Hana is forced to stay home. In the meantime, Emil’s radio show becomes popular and his voice makes him a vital mouthpiece for the Nazis. The Nazis even turn a blind eye towards Hana because of their need for Emil. However, Hana is not happy to be locked in her home and starts to rebel in her own ways. Emil is also not happy with his situation and is forced to make a choice to either aid the Nazis or assert his Czech identity.

Protektor includes a pulsating score that propels the momentum especially in the multiples scenes of the two actors riding their bikes. Overall, a slick production that also pays a loving tribute towards classic cinema.

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