MichaelB wrote: ↑
Wed May 27, 2020 9:36 am
(Although Cutting It Short
in particular is up there with Menzel's best films - it was a huge cultural phenomenon in Czechoslovakia that for some reason doesn't seem to have translated into significant international distribution.)
Out of curiosity, I looked up the IMDB reviews
- mostly 10/10 raves, until you get to the bottom, where there are three resoundingly negative takes from people who've clearly never set foot in the Czech Republic and the cultural gap is unbridgeably wide. Someone even thinks that the narration is evidence of artistic failure, rather than a practical way of being able to quote Bohumil Hrabal's unique prose style* directly - Closely Observed Trains
does the same, of course, especially at the start.
The clips in Dungarpur's doc are a marked advance on my old Czech DVD, and I'd love this to get a full-on Blu-ray restoration. Given its reputation back home, I daresay there's every chance of it happening at some point.
(*My first Czech teacher was a massive fan of Hrabal, and we once spent an entire lesson going through the opening page of a Hrabal story, word by word, with him translating it absolutely literally and explaining how complex the wordplay is, and therefore how hard it is to convey in English. Being able to read Hrabal in the original - a ton of his work has yet to be translated - is one of my major impetuses for sticking with the language, although I ruefully suspect it's ultimately a Withnail & I
-style situation where you have to be the exact same nationality as the author in order to truly grasp every nuance, and I'll ultimately never be able to manage that. Basically, the situation that Gilbert Adair flagged up when he reviewed Alain Resnais' The Same Old Song
, which he said underlined the fact that while he'd long considered himself to be wholly bilingual, he wasn't truly bicultural, and the film's use of popular chansons
resonated with French viewers in a way that they could never do with him. But even in English, Hrabal is a joy to read - he's hands down one of the twentieth century's most original writers, and it's easy to see why Czechs prefer him to the more internationally friendly likes of Milan Kundera.)