Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
Original Title: Rozmarné léto
Czechoslovakia, 1968. Filmové studio Barrandov. Screenplay by Jirí Menzel, Václav Nývlt, dramatisation by Vladimír Kalina, Jan Libora, based on the novel by Vladislav Vancura. Cinematography by Jaromir Sofr. Produced by Zdenek Oves. Music by Jirí Sust. Production Design by Oldrich Bosak. Costume Design by Olga Dimitrovova. Film Editing by Jirina Lukesova. Cannes Film Festival 1968.
Jiří Menzel follows his Oscar-winning Closely Watched Trains with another look at quiet lives in forgotten places. Shot in gorgeous colour, it takes place in a small village where three friends philosophize away their time: one of them is a priest, the other an army major, and the third, Antonin, is a man who runs a public bath with his wife. Their peace and quiet is interrupted by the arrival of a travelling circus act comprised of a tight-rope walker and his gorgeous assistant, which sends the whole village into a tizzy and threatens Antonin’s marriage when he starts to spend too much time with the female half of the visiting performers. As with his more popular film, there are elegantly shot, mostly wordless sequences that focus on small moments of erotic eccentricity, the humour always infused with melancholy. The feeling of spontaneous exploration suggests that Menzel is looking to isolate the moment that sexual attraction occurs, and the experience is incredibly endearing, but the ratio of subtle charm to heady conversation is not as well-balanced as it was in Trains and a good deal of it isn’t that interesting.