Monday 7 April 2014

Pearls of the Deep [1966]

Pearls of the Deep, on hindsight, was a watershed moment for the Czech New Wave movement, as 5 of its giants collaborated for this omnibus film. It can also be considered as an alumnus meet for FAMU, as all the 5 directors associated with this project, viz. Jiří Menzel, Jan Nemec, Evald Schorm, Věra Chytilová and Jaromil Jires, had studied at the legendary Prague institute. Further, all the shorts were adaptations of short stories by one of the most beloved Czech authors, Bohumil Hrabal. Though rarely as politically charged as Czech New Wave generally was, or like, say, the fabulous Romanian New Wave anthology film Tales from the Golden Age, it did bear some of the hallmarks that were representative the former movement – alternately bittersweet, darkly funny and whimsical humour, idiosyncratic characters, absurdism and oddities, breezy tone, and oftentimes experimental narrative styles. Menzel’s delectable Mr. Baltazar’s Death focused on a death and racing-bike obsessed husband-wife pair; Nemec’s The Imposters, the best and the most heartwarming of the lot, showed 2 aged patients in a hospital reminiscing about their pasts, using, as was later revealed, exaggerations to embellish their personal histories and memories of themselves; Schorm’s The House of Joy, the most politically charged of the lot and the only one shot in colour, concerned the futile attempts of 2 insurance salesmen to sell their product to an eccentric painter; Chytilova’s The Restaurant of the World, unsurprisingly the most surrealistic of the lot, was about the aftermaths of a suicide at a local café; and Jires’ Romance, chronicled the chance and fleeting romantic interlude between a shy apprentice plumber and a free-spirited Gypsey girl, and the associated social inequity.

Directors: Jiri Menzel, Jan Nemec, Evald Schorm, Vera Chytilova, Jaromil Jires
Genre: Drama/Comedy/Black Comedy/Surrealistic Drama/Political Drama/Omnibus Film
Language: Czech
Country: Czech Republic (erstwhile Czechoslovakia)


Sam Juliano said...

Nice work here Shubhajit! You have unearthed a most interesting collaborative effort that apparently was emblematic of the New Wave film making of its most esteemed proponents. As always, a superbly written piece!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. From your words I'm assuming you haven't seen it yet; in case my guess is correct, this deserves to be watched - if not for anything else, the fact that I don't think an omnibus film, before or since, managed to get so many pathbreakers under the same umbrella, and yes, for its historical importance too.