by Tony Medley
nurse, Eliska/Hana (Anna Geislerová) due to her minimal participation
in the Czech Resistance in 1943, is forced to flee to the mountains,
where she must live with Joza (György Cserhalmi), a simple man to whom
she has given blood that saved his life.
At 148 minutes, I
thought this was going to be interminable. In fact, I kept thinking that
I would leave. But I wanted to stay just a little longer to see the
outcome of what was happening and then I’d leave. But then I wanted to
see what was going to happen next and then I’d leave. When it was over
I hadn’t left.
Trojan has captured a place, Zelary, that seems as if it was frozen in
time for 150 years. This is where Hana must live to avoid the Nazis.
Since she’s a gorgeous young woman who only yesterday had a hot love
life in a Capitol city, Prague, the world into which she moves is not
just a little depressing.
It’s not just Joza
with whom she must learn to live, it’s also the rest of the villagers,
many of whom do not look kindly upon her. Some view her as a danger and
others look upon her lasciviously. And it’s not only Anna who has to
learn to adjust, it’s not easy on Joza, either. Trojan treats these
complex relationships brilliantly with the help of a fine script by
Kveta Legátová, based on a novel by Jozova Hanule.
the difficulties of the lives of Anna and Joza and the other villagers
is the underlying fear that the Nazis will come upon them. For most of
the film their mountain hideaway seems untouched by the war, but
there’s always the fear that it won’t remain so because the war is
going on all around them.
Making the film even
more astounding, Geislerová and Cserhalmi, who both give compelling
performances, don’t speak the same
languages. She speaks Czech and he speaks Hungarian, and the film was
shot with each speaking their own language. Ever the pro, when asked how
she overcame the language barrier, she said, “The only thing I need
from a partner is that our eyes understand one another. That’s
(Asen Sopov) is exceptional. The film was shot over the space of a year,
spanning all four seasons, and in each of the seasons we feel the
weather. The location often reminded me of the locale of the song
“Do-re-mi” in The Sound of Music (1965).
is really a remarkable, satisfying movie, one that was nominated for
Best Foreign Language Film in 2003, but you definitely have to be in the
Czech, Russian, Hungarian, and German with subtitles.
August 23, 2004