The Janus Collection
dir. František Vlácil, Czechoslovakia, 1967, 35mm, b/w, Czech and German w/ English subtitles, 165 min.
In its native land, František Vlácil’s Marketa Lazarová has been hailed as the greatest Czech film ever made; for many U.S. viewers, it will be a revelation. Based on a novel by Vladislav Vancura, this stirring and poetic depiction of a feud between two rival medieval clans is a fierce, epic, and meticulously designed evocation of the clashes between Christianity and paganism, humankind and nature, love and violence. Vlácil’s approach was to re-create the textures and mentalities of a long-ago way of life, rather than to make a conventional historical drama, and the result is dazzling. With its inventive widescreen cinematography, editing, and sound design, Marketa Lazarová is an experimental action film.