Marketa Lazarová Screen 8 articles

Marketa Lazarová

1967

Marketa Lazarová Poster
  • Part One held my attention throughout, with intermittent wowing; Part Two gets wayyyy more interested in Bernard the monk and his sheep than I was, along with some other less-than-compelling digressions, and only during the brilliant climactic cross-cutting between the assault on the prison and Marketa repeating her vows (or whatever that recitation may be; regardless, it's awesome) did I fully rouse myself again.

  • Without any prior exposure to the source material, it's nearly impossible to extrapolate backwards and imagine how Vančura's novel must read; in Vláčil's film the image reigns supreme and sequence is largely inconsequential, leading to a pervasive feeling of disorientation and awe.

  • The film rarely lets up, piling events, characters, and visions atop each other with fierce abandon, Vláčil attempting to capture every moment, every action, every sensation, lest this story and these all but forgotten people fade from memory. It's an ambitious undertaking, the logistical hurdles of the production and the dedication of its players never less than palpable, and yet the film never strains under such duress, instead emerging pure, uncompromised.

  • Despite my reluctance to loosen my grip on Nemec’s lean and mean Diamonds of the Night (1964) as my favorite all-time Czech film, I’m open to accepting Lazarovaas that fecund region’s greatest—it’s that inventive, that huge, that pungent, that startling.

  • Within the film's complex, episodic time-jumping, the savage and self-contained dramas (raping! pillaging! kidnapping! beheading!) can be so unbelievably dense that it's best to surrender to the exquisiteness of the filmmaking, from the evocative primitivism of period costumes and other grimily naturalistic details, to chilling sound design and symbolic B&W 'Scope compositions (such as wolves speckled in a blizzard-white forest) that are as hallucinatory as dreams.

  • Engulfed by sensation, the film lies at the edge of comprehensibility. Rather than provide the typical mass of redundant cues that alert the viewer to location, character and purpose, Marketa Lazarová only provides the slimmest of suggestions. It’s there, but brief, scattered and hidden... Relationships are established through glances. Passing comments capture core details and major events are elided. Failing to infer, appraise and then re-appraise, is to become lost.

  • QFF marks what is probably the first screening of this film in Australia, and its sheer magnitude on the big screen made it a remarkable experience. Arresting high contrast black and white images capture the brutal clash of Christians and Pagans against a snow laden wilderness. Zdeněk Liška’s choral-electronic score affords the already larger than life visuals an even greater weight.

  • A film of searing contrasts: innocence and cruelty, virgin and seductress, God and stag-god. Shot on blindly beautiful black-and-white Cinemascope, director František Vláčil marched his crew into a Bohemian forest for his expensive, uncompromising epic, making everyone "[live] like animals, lacking food, and dressed in rags," only to emerge two years later with what is still considered to be one of the greatest Czech pictures of all time.

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