Eclipse Series 32 - Pearls of the Czech New Wave (Disc 1 of 4): Pearls of the Deep (1966)
SET SYNOPSIS: Of all the cinematic New Waves that broke over the world in the 1960s, the one in Czechoslovakia was among the most fruitful, fascinating, and radical. With a wicked sense of humor and a healthy streak of surrealism, a group of fearless directors - including eventual Oscar winners Miloa Forman and Ján Kadár - began to use film to speak out about the hypocrisy and absurdity of the Communist state. A defining work was the 1966 omnibus film Pearls of the Deep, which introduced five of the movement's essential voices: Vera Chytilová, Jaromil Jirea, Jirí Menzel, Jan Nemec, and Evald Schorm. This series presents that title, along with five other crucial works that followed close on its heels, one from each of those filmmakers - some dazzlingly experimental, some arrestingly realistic, all singular expressions from a remarkable time and place.
Pearls of the Deep: A manifesto of sorts for the Czech New Wave, this five-part anthology shows off the breadth of expression and the versatility of the movement's directors. Based on stories by the legendary writer Bohumil Hrabal, the shorts range from the surreally chilling to the caustically observant to the casually romantic, but all have a cutting, wily view of the world.
Eclipse Series 32 - Pearls of the Czech New Wave (Disc 2 of 4): Daisies / A Report on the Party and Guests (1966)
Daisies: Maybe the New Wave's most anarchic entry, Vera Chytilová's absurdist farce follows the misadventures of two brash young women. Believing the world to be "spoiled," they embark on a series of pranks in which nothing - food, clothes, men, war - is taken seriously. Daisies is an aesthetically and politically adventurous film that's widely considered one of the great works of feminist cinema.
A Report on the Party and Guests: In Jan Nemec's surreal fable, a picnic is rudely transformed into a lesson in political hierarchy when a handful of mysterious authority figures show up. This allegory about oppression and conformity was banned in its home country but became an international success after it premiered at the New York Film Festival.
Eclipse Series 32 - Pearls of the Czech New Wave (Disc 3 of 4): Return of the Prodigal Son (1967)
Return of the Prodigal Son: Evald Schorm was one of the most politically outspoken of the Czech New Wave filmmakers. This raw psychological drama about an engineer unable to adjust to the world around him following his suicide attempt is at heart a scathing portrait of social alienation and moral compromise.
Eclipse Series 32 - Pearls of the Czech New Wave (Disc 4 of 4): Capricious Summer / The Joke (1968-1969)
Capricious Summer: Two years after his worldwide hit Closely Watched Trains, Jirí Menzel directed this amusing idyll about three middle-aged men whose mellow summer is interrupted by the arrival of a circus performer and his beautiful assistant. A meditation on aging and sex, shot in warm, sun-dappled color, Capricious Summer is one of the New Wave's loveliest reveries.
The Joke: Jaromil Jirea's brilliant adaptation of Milan Kundera's novel tells the fragmentary tale of a man expelled from the Communist Party because of a political joke. After "rehabilitation" in the mines and a stint in prison, he hatches a revenge plot against the former friend who betrayed him. Made near the end of the Czech New Wave, The Joke is acknowledged as one of its greatest works.