Burning Bush Screen 13 articles

Burning Bush


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  • You can see what Polish filmmaker Agnieska Holland is going for here: a multi-character dramatization that starts small and ends up putting an entire society under the microscope à la The Wire or Treme. (Given that the project had been commissioned for HBO Europe and Holland has helmed episodes for both TV shows, the similarity isn’t a coincidence.) Yet this three-episode miniseries never finds its footing as either a historical document or a layered look at the reverberations of martyrdom.

  • ["Burning Bush"] is a lesser, far more conventional film than Frederick Wiseman’s “At Berkeley,” Claude Lanzmann’s “The Last of the Unjust” or Lav Diaz’s “Norte, the End of History” but it’s hardly without interest... The opening is sensational and, as if the narrative weren’t compelling enough, Holland keeps trying to top it for the rest of the movie with a hectic, hyper dramatic camera style suggestive of her mentor, the great Polish director Andrzej Wadja.

  • When the trial finally takes place, behind closed doors, Palach's accuser cynically offers his condolences to Palach's mother, knowing that the trial is rigged. The accumulative effect of such incidents builds up a vivid sense of oppression, present in the works of Holland's Polish contemporaries, such as Krzysztof Kieślowski's No End or Andrzej Wajda's Without Anesthesia.

  • Holland’s film shows passionately, urgently and convincingly that their struggle was both necessary and fully justified, which is, in the end, another way of saying that it was beneficial for the nation. Whether Burešová’s image of Palach’s act 7was true because it was beneficial or beneficial because it was true is a question perhaps no movie—or TV series—could answer.

  • Holland, a political filmmaker who did her best work (Europa Europa; Olivier, Olivier) in the ’80s and ’90s, sometimes directs with a heavy hand—a scene in which Palach’s mother receives horrific photos of her son’s charred corpse gets awfully amped up with the sound of a screaming infant in the background, for example. On the whole, though, Burning Bush is an absorbing docudrama that maintains a gratifying equilibrium between hope and cynicism.

  • Burning Bush is a deeply complex film, or television series; its formal identity depends on how one consumes it, and this will inevitably expand or retract its complications in different ways...

  • Directed by Agnieszka Holland, who was a film student at Prague’s FAMU at the time of the protest in early 1969 (and present in Karlovy Vary to preside over the Grand Jury), and impressively researched and scripted by film historian Štěpán Hulík (born 1984),Burning Bush doesn’t at all feel its nearly four hour length when viewed in total; it fair races along in its period-perfect evocation of some very tough times indeed in Czechoslovakian history.

  • The ensemble cast sustains the tension throughout, both individually and as a collective. The wonderfully detailed sets... and mod-inflected costumes contribute to the accuracy. Jaroslava Pokorná is striking as Palach’s mother, an unassuming woman keen only to defend the honor of her son. Holland’s pitch-perfect evocation of the country’s lurch into twenty years of relative passivity reveals a vibrant culture on the verge of defeat.

  • Adhering to an aesthetic and ethical composure that feels both just and brave, "Burning Bush" manages to be genuinely moving without resorting to emotional blackmail... The historical details are impeccable, from the accurate wardrobe choices to the chromatic rendition of a very bleak season, up to the remarkable use of “choreographically aged” locations.

  • Holland is the perfect director for this assignment on several levels: She excels at historical drama, including the Oscar-nominated Holocaust-era films “Europa Europa” and “In Darkness,” and has also directed for HBO on this side of the pond (three episodes of “The Wire” and five of “Treme”)... “Burning Bush” is one of the richest works of her long and distinguished career, a multilayered, morally complex drama full of humor, tragedy, political thoughtfulness and sharply observed detail.

  • Prague in the late sixties was one of the epicenters of 20th-century life, a place and time that gave the measure of that mad century and of our capacity for dissidence, and fathoming it is to perhaps know something concrete about institutional power, mass folly and hope. If you’re not Czech or Slovak, the fiery legacy of Palach might be complete news to you, and a thorough, earnest distillation of history like Burning Bush can come as a revelation.

  • Agnieszka Holland’s brilliant, ambitious, and moving new film, Burning Bush, begins at a violent and traumatic moment in Czech history... Part of what makes the film so affecting—and what makes it length seem so necessary—is the pace and patience with which it documents the gradual change undergone by its protagonists, and by the society in which they live...

  • Holland never risks overlooking the hardship that comes with being on the right side of history. "Burning Bush" is a riposte to the idea that there's anything beautiful about dying for your beliefs. Lindsay Anderson once wrote that "Revolution is the opiate of the intellectuals," and Holland has never partaken. She's never allowed herself to get swept up in the romance of change, never turned a blind eye to how desperate life can look when the powers that be have decided it isn't worth anything.

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