Posts Tagged ‘zhasnout’

Is the first film that brought Miloš Forman international fame and he followed it with such classics as One flew over a cuckoo’s nest(1975) and Amadeus(1984). Forman’s early movies are still very popular among Czechs. Many of the situations and phrases are in common usage: for example, the Czech term zhasnout (to switch lights off) from The Firemen’s Ball, associated with petty theft in the movie, has been used to describe the large-scale asset stripping happening in the country during the 1990s. Having introduced the director let me now get on with my appreciation of the movie.

Loves of a Blonde (Czech: Lásky jedné plavovlásky) is a 1965 Czech film and it works at different layers. On the surface it is a simple story of  Andula, a young factory girl falling head over heels with a traveling musician for whom it is a one night stand. Whereas the girl her whole life she has invested ,-for its emotional depth I can only cite Renoir’s une partie de campagne (1936) for comparison, and must salvage it from falling to pieces.  Unlike Henriette the Czech girl dares to follow it up.

The film begins with the general (’my hooligan love’ a pseudo Beatle number) to the particular musically represented by  ‘Ave Maria’ at the end. The Bach-Gounod number in this case is meant to be a paen to the blond working girl who in her elemental goodness stands as a modern Maria.

It is also a social satire.

The film takes place in the provincial Czech town of Zruc, which Forman sketches in a few shots: a train station, a housing block, a shoe factory that could have been lifted from any of the East European films of the communist era. Andula, the blond protagonist of the film is a worker in the shoe factory, one among some 2000 who outnumbers male population by 16 to one. The film opens with the benign manager of the factory asking army officials to place a regiment in Zruc, as a way of redressing the local imbalance of available males and yearning females. “They need what we needed when we were young,” the manager says to an avuncular Major who can well understand the manager’s predicament. ‘Sex liberates woman from their drudgery and social isolation’ seems to be the watchword and how the government tries to meet the expectations of the female workforce touches the very flaw of party manifesto as written and in practice.

Froman always had a felicity in casting the right actors for the parts. Just as he made the roles of Baron von Sweiten, Count Rosenburg and the valet in Amadeus memorable the three ‘old farts’ of army reservists who try to date the three workers are unforgettable.

In honor of the army reservists brought to the town a party is organized where girls in all sizes and expectations take part. The age old mating game played in the pub has plenty of room for comedy which the director uses to lead the viewer to the heart of the film. Andula catches the eye of the comparatively dashing young pianist, Milda (Vladimir Pucholt). The next morning, the traveling musician assures her repeatedly, “I do not have a girlfriend in Prague.” Milda leaves town, as expected, but Andula has fallen in love with him, and decides to journey to Prague to track him down. A low-key black-and-white ensemble comedy, Loves of a Blonde was cast predominantly with non-professional actors.

In Prague Andula meets the dysfunctional family of Milda and it is clear that in his parents we have the duplicate the blonde and her feckless groom on the making. Forman’s dark comedy must be seen to be enjoyed. His comical sense reaches its best in the part where the parents try to cope with a strange girl who has intruded upon their private space though it is for one night. From that point the director tickles the funnybone, as it were with a scalpel, and only later we realize that whatever future happiness Andula may have with Milda shall only be a downer, an anti-climax to the trite line we are so familiar with, ‘and they lived happily everafter’.

‘Over the course of the three acts, the film’s context evolves from social satire (set in a public space) to emotional intimacy (confined to the private space of a single room and a single bed) to domestic drama (set in the awkward private-public space of a family apartment). The thematic shifts reflect the shifts in setting: the first section is centered on youth and infinite possibility; the second on young adulthood and romantic fulfillment; the third on maturity and inevitable disappointment.’ (DAVE KEHR Feb 12, 2002-criterion collection)
Similar Works
Dolgaya Schastlivaya Zhizn (1966, Gennadiy Shpalikov)
The Pornographers (1966, Shohei Imamura)
Kitchen Stories (2003, Bent Hamer)
The Firemen’s Ball (1967, Milos Forman)
Noa at 17 (1982, Isaac Yeshurun)
Adoption (1975, Márta Mészáros)

( ack: wikipedia,criterion collection, Allmovie)

It was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1967. It is also known under an alternate title of A Blonde in Love.

Directed by

Miloš Forman

Produced by

Doro Vlado Hreljanović

Rudolf Hájek

Written by

Miloš Forman

Jaroslav Papoušek


Hana Brejchová

Vladimír Pucholt

Vladimír Menšík

Music by

Evžen Illín

Running time

90 min.


(reprinted from cinebuff.wordpress.com)

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