Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Birds, Orphans and Fools [1969]

Made soon after Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Bird, Orphans and Fools, like so many fascinating films made during and post Prague Spring, was banned upon its release and saw the light of day only after the collapse of Soveit regime. This lesser-known Czech New Wave film provided a fascinating look at socio-political alienation through its bleak portrayal of a dystopian world laced with absurdism, ironies, black humour, anarchic spirit and sharp underlying commentary on the then political climate – no wonder it earned the wrath of the draconian ruling force. The 3 protagonists of the allegorical tale – the aggressive and volatile Yorick (Jiri Sykora), his introverted buddy Ondrej (Philippe Avron) who’s never had a relationship with a female, and the beautiful Martha (Magda Vášáryová) whose entrance adds simmering undercurrents – are orphans living in a dilapidated church in a fool’s world. Their idea of freedom is discarding the kind of rational behavior expected of adults, and their need for escaping the dreary, crumbling environ they’re living in is to reject the various tragedies surrounding them through childlike philosophy of unbridled fun and nonsensical attitudes. Closing one’s mind to the world one is living in, however, is hardly a sensible way to exist, and reality, as can be anticipated, catches up with them leading the film to a chilling climax with shuddering violence, in the form of Yorick’s meltdown following a sudden arrest, putting an end to their carefree lives. A gaggling old man, also living in that church, added comic interludes to this otherwise relentlessly dark film; the absurdist elements and exuberance for most parts was followed by a somber tone in the end, thus making the representations all the more powerful.

Director: Juraj Jakubisko
Genre: Black Comedy/Social Satire/Avant-Garde/Experimental Film
Language: Slovak
Country: Czechoslovakia

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