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Czech Republic 1969
Directed by
Jiri Menzel
94 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Larks On A String

Filmed during Prague Spring in 1968-69, Jiri Menzel's critique of communist rule in Czechoslovakia and set in the early 1950 did not get a release until the 1990 Berlin Film Festival. Typical of Czech film of the period it embeds its satirical message in a charmingly whimsical fable. This time it follows that goings-on at a scrap metal yard in Kladnos, where a group of bourgeois dissidents and female defectors are being re-eductated in the virtues of socialism.

Although the film has lost the political relevance that it had when it was made and at times is frustrating in its uneventfulness, the allegorical aspects can still be appreciated and, rather ironically, it is a visually-beguiling film, with the scrap metal yard forming a kind of theatre set for the human frailties on show. Vaclav Neckar, who plays the young cook was also the lead in Menzel's 1966 Oscar-winner Closely Observed Trains, which also had the same writers as this, Menzel and Bohumil Hrabal.




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